Athletic policy changes made

"The school board toughened up penalties for a second substance abuse offense before adopting a revised student athletic code Monday night.The second violation now calls for a 15-month suspension from all athletic competition, three months longer than the penalty discussed earlier. However, the lengthy suspension can be avoided if the offending student follows procedures for drug/alcohol assessment and treatment.In unanimously adopting the changes, the school board fixed the biggest problem that many parents and students saw with the code adopted last year -- the second offense called for removal from athletic competition for one calendar year, plain and simple. Critics said that policy did not address the needs of the violator.Dr. Martin Laster, superintendent of schools, said the revised policy retains the two main points of the original policy: One, it sends a strong message not to use drugs and alcohol; and two, it provides incentive for intervention to deal with the problem.We have kept the body of the code in place, Laster said, commending high school Principal Mike Johnson for listening carefully to all sides during the lengthy code revision process.At less than 30 minutes in length, Monday's meeting was the shortest school board gathering in recent memory. I'm shocked and amazed, said school board member Wendy Alexander.The board did meet in executive session prior to the public meeting to approve personnel action. Later, Laster made a point of publicly thanking his secretary, Sue Nerison, for her outstanding work during the transition period between two superintendents. In other action, Margaret Evans was named Supervisor of Transportation effective Sept. 25. "

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