District toughens penalties for illegal substance abuse
MT. PLEASANT—Students in the North Sanpete School District who hold leadership positions might face stricter consequences if they are caught participating in activities involving illegal substances.
The North Sanpete School Board discussed the issue at a board meeting held Oct. 18. The group also had a discussion about implementing a new policy which would enforce students district-wide to uphold to a higher standard by increasing suspension time from school and associated activities if caught with illegal substances.
The new rules could strip away titles from middle and high school team captains, student body officers and other organization leaders who are caught using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs.
The current rule set by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) to suspend students for two consecutive games or activity meets on the first offense will continue to be enforced.
Some administrators argued that the current UHSAA standard is unbalanced for athletes and club members because activity times for each organization run on different clocks.
For instance, cheerleaders might only be suspended for part of a single day during a tournament, while drama students could be suspended for most of the school year because they only have a small handful of events per year.
North Sanpete High School (NSHS) is required to support the UHSAA policy because school administrators chose to participate in the UHSAA sponsored sporting events. But the school has created a rule for coaches and other team leaders to enforce a higher standard for their players and club participants if they choose.
The board agreed that all students in the district should adhere to a higher standard, not a select few.
The board also agreed that suspension for students who break the law while participating in school sponsored activities should hold for two weeks flat, rather than two consecutive games to help fulfill a balanced playing field.
But some administrators say defining rules for such a policy would be a rigorous process and leave administrators who already have a high workload with more to tackle.
“As far as the athletic association is concerned, I don’t really agree with deviating from what the activity association has implemented, “NSHS Principal Nan Ault said. “I can’t possibly manage every single organization that represents the high school.”
For Ault and other administrators, implementing the higher standard policy and enforcing it would require students from every middle school and high school organization to be “policed” on a continuous basis. This also includes monitoring behavior during summer activities.
Ault also suggested that consequences be timely so no further sanction can be imposed on first-time offenders. This would mean students who break the law before their anticipated season, sport or event still be allowed to try out for teams or run for a leadership position.
The school board plans to discuss options to refine a district-wide policy at the next school board meeting scheduled for Nov. 15.