Triton school board reviewing athlete disciplinary policy

BOURBON — A rare insight into the workings of a school board was offered last Tuesday morning as the Triton School Board met in a public work session. Patrons who think the board is only concerned with legal liability issues for the corporation are mistaken as this Board is clearly concerned with the wellbeing of Triton students.
At issue was a revision of the Athletic Handbook proposed by Athletic Director Mason McIntyre. It was clear that McIntyre and the board members agreed that the current handbook is too vague with regard to punishment steps when student athletic policy is violated. The current “three strike” procedure, while attempting to rectify violations in an equitable manner, does not contain enough action steps required of the student violator to adequately train students to recognize and abide by current policies, all agreed.
The proposed change specifies “four strikes” or steps. “While it might seem at first glance that the new policy is more lenient with an extra ‘strike’ than the old one,” McIntyre said, “the truth is that it is more stringent and more easily understood and enforced.” Triton’s academic requirements for athletes is already tougher than Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) standards. That will not change with the new policies. Now, however, a very clear timeline and set of action steps will allow student athletes and parents to know exactly what is required at each step of the remediation process.
The new policy involves the following:
First Offense:
• Suspension for 1/3 of the contest season as defined by the IHSAA (number of games in each sport will be specified);
• A probationary period of 90 days;
• Passing of a drug test before returning to play and random drug tests during the probationary period, costs of the tests to be borne by the student athlete/parent or guardian;
• Ten hours of community service to be completed within 30 days;
• Participation in a drug/alcohol education course.
Second Offense:
• Suspension for one full contest season (football, basketball, etc.)
• A probationary period of 180 days;
• Passing of random drug tests during the 180 days with cost borne by the student;
• 60 hours of community service — minimum 10 hours per month for six months;
• Participation in two free counseling sessions at the Bowen Center.
Third Offense:
• Suspension for 365 days. Probationary period lasting the 365 days;
• Passing of random drug tests during the 365 days with cost borne by the student;
• If any drug tests return positive, student expelled from athletics for the remainder of the high school career (Fourth Offense);
• 120 hours of community service;
• Completion of an approved drug/alcohol program.
Fourth Offense:
• Expulsion from all athletics for the remainder of the high school career.
While the athletic policies have not been heavily used in the past, McIntyre indicated that events this school year prompted the review and revision proposed.
Of considerable concern to him and to the Board is the issue of three Triton students who are currently under sanctions with the current policy. Board members were vitally concerned with balancing the fairness of implementing the new policy with these three students and their concern for the good of all Triton athletes and the school’s athletic program.
Following a free and full discussion with the violators’ names concealed in this public session, the Board arrived at consensus as to how the three current students should be handled.
While the new Athletic Handbook and policies are not yet official, they are expected to be formally approved at the next regular meeting of the school board.
Additional items on the work session agenda were reserved for discussion at the Board’s upcoming retreat.