Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: Eligibility for activity participation policy changes for 2012-13

Over the past several years there has been a great deal of discussion and effort put forth by the Extra-Curricular Committee, coaches-supervisors of activity programs and administrators on changes that need to be made to our existing policy for “Eligibility Based on Tobacco, Alcohol and any other Controlled Substance Abuse.” If we truly believe that we want students participating in our activity programs that are free of tobacco, alcohol and controlled substances then we should understand there  needs to be a change in the eligibility for participation in those programs.

The intent of this article is to inform you of the changes that will be taking place at Mandan High School and Mandan Middle School beginning on May 25, which is defined as the first day of the 2012-13 school year. This past February the Mandan School Board adopted policy JCDA-R, which changes the existing policy for “Eligibility Based on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Controlled Substance Abuse.” Under the new policy there are three major changes that will affect students in grades 7 through 12.

1. The new policy enforces both In and Out of Season Penalties (including summer), which is a change from the past policy which was only enforced during the normal school year. If a student is caught using tobacco, alcohol, or any other controlled substance during the summer they will face penalties for any school related activities when they resume participation in extra-curricular activities in fall, winter, or spring.

2. The new policy also enforces a “Mere Presence” standard. Being in attendance at a function, in a vehicle, or at a party where the student knows or has reason to know that alcohol or other drugs are being consumed illegally by minors and failing to leave despite having a reasonable opportunity to do so is a violation of the Mandan Public Schools tobacco, alcohol, or any controlled substance policy. The penalty for this violation will be a two-week suspension or dismissal from their first competition or performance in an activity.

3. The new policy also enforces a “Cumulative Violation Penalty,” which will disqualify a student from further activity participation once they have three violations at the high school level and will disqualify a student in grades 7 to 8 upon the second violation in a two-year period at the middle school while enrolled in grades 7 and 8.

The complete policies are available on the district website at  mandan.k12.nd.us. Click on School Board, then Policies, and then go to Code J and view policies JCDA, JCDA-R & JCDA-E. We encourage you to read the policies and the interpretations so that you are aware of the changes that go in to place beginning May 25.

Prior to the end of the school year administrators will review this new policy with all students in grade 6 to 11. Additionally, all students will be made aware of the policy changes as it is reviewed in class meetings next fall, during orientation(s), and during meetings with parents and students prior to the beginning of any activity season. These new changes will also be placed in the school handbooks at both the middle school and high school beginning with the 2012-13 school year.

We hope you take the time to review each of the policies listed above with your son or daughter so you understand the penalties associated with the new policies. Policy JCDA-E is policy that answers many questions you may have about the new changes. At the very end of this policy is a list of music activities, which are or are not subject to the new policy. Any music activity where a grade is earned will not be subject to the policy.

We understand the new policy is more stringent than the North Dakota High School Activities Association policy regarding eligibility based on tobacco, alcohol or any other controlled substance abuse. However, we are hopeful that all participants in our activity programs will be students who refrain from using tobacco, alcohol and any controlled substances. As parents or guardians, it is important you assist us in emphasizing to your son or daughter to stay tobacco, alcohol and drug free.

In advance, I want to thank you for helping us keep our schools safe.