Geneva High School Principal Tom Rogers and Athletic Director Jim Kafer on Monday night outlined for the Board of Education a new code that specifies consequences for inappropriate behavior but also allows a path to redemption.
Kafer said the administration looked at the policies of several school districts and said Geneva's differs by degree. While other codes focus primarily on the punishments for the crime, Geneva's gives the student a chance to change.
"We like to think we have a situation where you’re going to be held accountable, but you are expected to come back and we want you to come back," Kafer said. "We’re not just going to cut you loose because you made a mistake or a poor decision."
The administrators tweaked the code of conduct to make sure it was more consistent, fair and defined.
For example, Rogers said, the previous code said a first offense would be punishable by a one-game suspension. But that punishment was different for a football player who has only nine games a year and a baseball player, who might play in 35 or 36 games a year. It also didn't take into account other extracurriculars such as theater, where a student might only have a chance to participate in three or four plays in a year.
The new policy suggests that a first offense would be punishable by suspension for 20 percent of the events in which the student participates—rounded to the nearest whole number. Under Rogers' example, a first offense would require a two-game suspension of a football player but an nine-game suspension of a baseball player.
Under the previous code, a first offender for an underage drinking violation was required to meet with Williams. Under the new code, the student must present evidence that he or she has enrolled in an intervention program approved by the school.
For a second offense, Rogers said, the student again would be required to enroll in an intervention program approved by the school and would be suspended for 50 percent of the contests or performances.
Upon the third offense, the student would be suspended for a calendar year.
"This is where that education component comes in," Kafer said. "Upon taking steps necessary to change one’s life, reinstatement may be warranted if all of those steps are taken."
For the fourth offense, a student would be removed from all extracurricular activities.
Another revision is that the student is held accountable year-round.
"We know during the summer months some teenagers engage in less-than-desirable behaviors, and the code did not address this," Rogers said. "Now the code will be
enforced year-round, and would apply as soon as a student becomes eligible for
an extracurricular program."
The code of conduct goes into effect with the start of the 2013-14 school year — Aug. 21 — but it won't be part of the student handbook because the handbook already has been printed. Kafer said he will personally attend preseason sports meetings with parents in order to explain the code of conduct changes.
"I think this was needed," School Board member Mary Stith said.
A student who participates in the extra-curricular activity program is expected to:
1. Pass five academic classes each week and every semester.
A student not passing five academic classes each week will be ineligible to participate in contests/events/performances the following week. A student not passing five academic classes each semester will be ineligible to participate in contests/events/performances the following semester.
2. Attend all classes all the time unless excused by parents. Class cutting/truancy is not acceptable.
If a participant cuts a class or is truant during a season or after auditions, that student will be ineligible to participate in the next contest or performance.
Individual team/organization sanctions may also be applied.
3. Attend four class periods in order to be qualified to practice, compete, or perform on any given day unless otherwise authorized by the Principal, Athletic Director, or Designee.