Thursday, August 12, 1999

Lakota adopts drug policy


Athletes must sign new pledge

BY SUE KIESEWETTER
Enquirer Contributor

        UNION TOWNSHIP — When Lakota student-athletes return to classes this fall, they will face tougher policies aimed at reducing drug and alcohol abuse — methods that have brought good results in other districts, officials say.

        Among the changes this year:

        • Athletes will be required to sign pledges to remain drug- and alcohol-free for the entire year — including summer vacation — if they want to participate in school-sponsored sports.

        • Violators will face a mini mum two-week suspension from competition on their first offense; a second infraction — even if it occurs several years later — would mean removal from the team for one year.

        • First-time violators also will be required to submit to a professional drug/alcohol assessment and attend three substance abuse counseling sessions before they could seek reinstatement. If the assessment indicates treatment is necessary, the student must follow the prescribed program.

        “This is an evolution of our current policy,” said Stu Eversole, Lakota athletic director. “This is taking our substance abuse policy and philosophy a couple of steps further. Just saying no doesn't cut it any more.”

        Lakota is the latest Tristate school district to enact tougher policies aimed at student-athletes. Similar codes are used at Turpin, Anderson, Kings, Glen Este and New Miami high schools.

        The change in policy also will require coaches in grades 7-12 to spend at least 15 minutes each week talking with athletes about remaining drug-free. The discussions will be modeled after lesson plans now in use at Anderson High School, where the program was developed in 1983 by Principal Michael Hall, who was then athletic director.

        Randy Corbitt, Anderson's current athletic director, said 52 athletes have been cited for violations and went through the process during the past 41/2 years.

        At Kings High School, students who violated the policy during its two-year existence have not had a second offense, said Matthew Koenig, associ ate athletic director for grades 7-12.

        Mr. Eversole said the athletic department has been reviewing its policy since early January and talked with Mr. Corbitt, Mr. Hall and others who were using it before bringing it to the school board for approval earlier this week.

        Lakota also will develop leadership councils, first for athletes and eventually for all activities. Coaches would select athletes to serve as role models. They would be coached, for example, in ways to leave a party where alcohol or drugs are being used, and in resisting peer pressure.

        “Kids listening to kids has a greater impact than us preaching to them,” Mr. Eversole said.

        Anderson High School senior Vicki Jaymont said she likes the contract but isn't sure that all athletes comply in the off-season.

        “If anyone asks why you're not drinking, it's a way of getting out of a situation,” said Vicki, a cheerleader and dance team member. “The majority of kids understand why you're not. I know honoring the contract helps keep me in line. The consequences are not worth it.”

        Classmate Tiffany Coy, 17, said underclassmen look up to the juniors and seniors and model their behavior accordingly.

        Lakota board member Helen Shumaker said she likes most components of the program but doesn't believe the policy should apply in the off-season or summer.

        “What I object to is signing a 12-month contract,” Mrs. Shumaker said. “While they're in school traveling back and forth, yes, the schools are in charge. But schools can't be in charge 12 months of the year. That's the parents' job.”

        The state athletic associations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana do not have specific policies on substance abuse, leaving that to the local boards. However, Ohio does deem a player using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs ineligible until it is proved he is no longer taking the drugs. Kentucky has a morals clause that could cover illegal substances, but it is administered on a case-by-case basis.

        “We view it (substance abuse) as something that's robbing our young people of their potential,” Mr. Eversole said. “Either you get real proactive or your look the other way. We're all in it to help the kids.”

       



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