Greene County board of ed takes up Good Conduct policy… again

The Greene County Schools board of education discussed at its Nov. 23 meeting what board president Teresa Hagen called “the most reviewed policy we’ve ever had.” Another revision to the school’s Good Conduct policy is expected at the December meeting.

The policy was revised in July, changing it from one of the most lax policies in the Heart of Iowa Activities Conference to one of the strictest policies, requiring community service and parental involvement when students violate it. Activities director Dean Lansman called the policy “pretty dang strict.”

Still, veteran board member Sam Harding summed up the board’s frustration: “We thought we had this solved. Every time, they come up with something new.”

Harding was referring to a loophole a student used earlier this year. A student who violated the policy after the football season started joined the football team and served his period of ineligibility (one-fourth of the scheduled contests on a first violation), allowing him to miss none of the basketball season, the sport in which he excels. The school’s attorney advised that because there is no policy not allowing latecomers to teams, the student’s participation in football was not contrary to the policy.

(The student, now age 17, is charged with sex abuse-third degree, a Class D felony, in Greene County district court. There is a hearing next week on a motion to move the case to juvenile court.)

Lansman told the board that coaches have discretion in allowing latecomers on their teams, and that students often join teams late. He said Roland-Story is the only school in the Heart of Iowa Activities Conference that does not allow students to join a team at any time. R-S closes teams two weeks into the season.

“If they’ve already violated the policy and then they want to start a sport, that shouldn’t be when they serve the penalty. They serve the penalty in the next sport,” Harding said about latecomers.

Board member John McConnell suggested that a policy that makes a violator ineligible for an entire academic year would have no loopholes, but other board members acknowledged that for many students, it’s activities that keep them going to school, not classes. They see benefit in participating in extra-curricular activities and don’t want to take those benefits away too harshly.

The board reviewed the Perry Community School’s Good Conduct policy. That policy specifies that students cannot participate in an activity that has already begun practice, and that if a student’s violation is a “serious criminal offense/felony offense” the student can be declared ineligible for an additional period of time determined by the school administration.”

After about 20 minutes of discussion, the board asked superintendent Tim Christensen to draft a policy revision that would specify that a period of ineligibility would be served during the next full season in which the violating student participates. Violating students would still be allowed to join an activity late, just as any other student can, but a late start couldn’t be used as a way to serve an ineligibility period.

The proposed revision will also include language giving the administration discretion in determining additional penalties depending on the severity of the violation.

The board will consider the revisions at its Dec. 16 meeting.

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