Champion Carroll wrestler's suspension upheld

Superintendent rules

others question severity of system's discipline

January 14, 2000|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The quest of two-time state champion Fran Jackson to resume his wrestling season at North Carroll is over.

Carroll County Schools Superintendent William H. Hyde earlier this week upheld Jackson's suspension, which prohibits the junior from participating in athletics until next season, according to his father, Fran Jackson III.

The elder Jackson was brief in his reaction to the superintendent's decision.

"Fran wants to get on with his life and move on," his father said Wednesday night. "That's all I've got to say."

Jackson, who captured titles at 103 and 125 pounds in his first two years of high school, and four other wrestlers were involved in an incident in November that led to their suspensions.

Sophomore Tom Bowman, freshman Randy Schreck, sophomore Kyle Smith and junior Donny Swecker also were dismissed from the team.

Assistant Superintendent Dorothy Mangle, who met with the Jackson family last week, and Hyde did not reply to requests for comment. Carey Gaddis, a spokeswoman for the school system, would only say: "We don't comment on student disciplinary matters."

The elder Jackson and several area coaches questioned Carroll County's policy of prohibiting athletes who violate the schools' conduct code from participating in sports for the entire season or 45 days, whichever is longer.

Critics argue that the punishment unfairly affects athletes while participants in other extracurricular activities who break school rules are not banned from those activities.

"I don't know if taking him out of the whole season serves a purpose," said Overlea wrestling coach Bruce Malinowski, who believes a shorter suspension and a probationary period would have been a fair penalty. "I don't know what lesson is learned from kicking him off the team."

Owings Mill coach Guy Pritzker said his biggest concern with the policy is that it leaves an athlete with nothing to do after school, which could lead to more mischief and trouble.

"I understand their intent but the problem is that kids make mistakes," he said. "Do we want to create a situation where kids are lost forever, or do we want to create a situation where we can turn the kids around and make them better people?"

Bruce Cowan, supervisor of athletics for Carroll, said the school system adopted the policy before his arrival in 1992 and that every student and his or her parents get a handbook that clearly defines the policy.

"Athletics are not a part of class," Cowan said. "So, in essence, they are a privilege."

Dean Bowman, father of one of the other four suspended wrestlers, said the punishment was just. "If they want to wrestle," he said, "they have to follow the rules."

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