New Londonderry policy would hold student athletes accountable, on and off school grounds
LONDONDERRY — District officials are considering an updated code-of-conduct policy that, if passed, would mean a stricter set of rules for Londonderry High School student-athletes. A first draft of the new “Life of a Lancer” policy went before the School Board Tuesday. If the board approves the policy later this summer, members of high school sports teams would be expected to refrain from narcotics and alcohol.
Those expectations are hardly new, but unlike the existing policy, students’ behavior expectations aren’t limited to what goes on at school, Superintendent Nate Greenberg said.
“Our students’ behavior is reflective on our schools,” Greenberg said.
Student-athletes helped draft the new policy, which is based on the Life of an Athlete: New Hampshire program. Under the new code of conduct, students would be asked to sign a contract prior to being permitted to partake in athletic events or any other co-curricular activities. The rules would remain in effect from the first day of a student’s participation in sanctioned school activities throughout either the last day of participation or the last day of school, whichever is later.
Students caught with alcohol or narcotics during sporting or other co-curricular events on school grounds would be suspended from participation for a 180-day period. Principal Jason Parent said that suspension could be reduced to 90 days upon completion of the school’s alcohol and drug educational intervention program. Violations of the substance abuse policy occurring off school-grounds would be subject to a “three strikes and you’re possibly out” basis, according to Athletic Director Howard Sobolov.
First offense for an issue occurring either off school grounds and/or not at a school-sanctioned event would be a 20-day suspension from participating in sports. The student would also have to perform 10 hours of community service before returning to the field and pass a substance screening at the student’s expense.
Second offense would result in a 90-day participation suspension and 20 hours of community service, followed by a mandatory substance abuse treatment program at the student’s expense.
Third offense means a minimum 90-day participation suspension and another 20 hours of community service, mandatory substance abuse treatment and possibly being kicked off the team, though school officials stressed such decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Academic standards will also apply to student-athletes, with participating team members required to pass five units of work during the previous quarter.
“With the Life of a Lancer program, instead of penalizing people who violate the contract on or off school grounds, we’re teaching them that there are consequences,” Sobolov said. “We don’t automatically remove them from the team. Instead we look at ways to get them back in the game and hopefully we’re able to help them with any issues they may have.”
School board members expressed support for the new policy, which will return before the board next month.
“When I sat down to read it, it turned out to be stricter than what I expected,” board member Steve Young said. “But it’s very well written. It takes a tough stance, there’s community service involved….and it puts a statement in the ground and says ‘this is what you have to follow.’”