Douglas schools adopt strict substance abuse policy
STATELINE – Douglas County School District will join just three other Nevada school districts by adopting a controversial substance abuse policy for its high school athletes.
The guidelines, made by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, lessens the time a student athlete is ineligible if discovered using alcohol, drugs or tobacco. It increases the consequences to attendance of a substance abuse prevention class, eight hours of community service and two written reports.
If those conditions are met, the six-week ineligibility period is reduced to two weeks for the first offense.
There will be no drug screenings.
The most contentious aspect of the policy is parent participation. If a parent fails to report his or her child using alcohol or drugs, or if a parent denies knowledge of their child’s behavior but later investigation proves otherwise, the athlete can be suspended for one year. Also, games can be forfeited if decided by the school district.
“We want to help parents,” said Jerry Hughes, executive president of the NIAA. “We don’t want to put them in a position to rat on their kids.”
Trustee Keith Roman fired the most questions at Hughes and Eddie Bonine, vice president of the NIAA. Like other board members, Roman was bothered by the parent rule.
He was comforted by students being able to continue practicing with their respective teams if allowed by a principal and coach. Roman also believed student athletes would self-police each other.
“I can see where a lot of pressure is put on kids to avoid alcohol,” he said.
Cindy Trigg, who is running for the board’s lake seat in November’s election, cautioned trustees and reminded them that teams at small schools like Whittell High School could suffer immensely if two or three athletes are suspended.
If she had the opportunity, Trigg said she would not report her children, who are out of high school.
“It wouldn’t take long,” Hughes said. “One or two forfeitures and the party will be over, literally.”
Dennis Young, coach of Whittell’s football team, wanted a longer ineligibility period than two weeks.
“I think it probably should be 90 days the first time,” Young said. “Then throw them out the second time. I’m really against that kind of stuff.”
Douglas will join Washoe, Carson and Eureka counties in following the policy. Washoe and Carson counties provide most of the competition for Douglas County.
“I think it is important for all 17 (counties) to jump on board with this,” said trustee Connie Wennhold.
Hughes said the NIAA is investigating ways to include co-curricular activities like band and leadership classes into the policy for the 2005-06 school year. The Douglas County School District trustees voted unanimously to accept the policy with a progress report due next meeting on how to include co-curricular activities.
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com