Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

January 26, 2003

Schools should alter discipline of athletes

I have been an educator in the Baltimore County Public Schools for 36 years. My experience includes coaching a variety of sports (27 years), athletic director (15 years), physical education teacher (27 years) and assistant principal (8 years).

I have been President of the Men's Coaches Association, a member of the Secondary School Administrators Association Executive Board, a member of the Legislative Committee on Athletic Regulations, a representative to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Board of Control. I have been a Carroll County resident for 24 years. Three of my children graduated from North Carroll High. Currently my youngest daughter attends East Middle School.

In the past I have challenged what I consider to be the illegal and intrusive policy of CCPS related to the removal of athletes from sports teams on the basis of being in proximity to underage drinking or drug abuse. Unfortunately, once again, Westminster High School athletes have been singled out for disciplinary action under this ill-conceived and Draconian policy.

I do not question the intent of the policy. I do not condone illegal or unhealthy activities by teen-agers. I have seen first hand the death and destruction caused by drinking and driving, drug addiction and overdoses.

As a coach, I have dismissed players from my teams for "breaking training." As an administrator, I have expelled several youngsters from Baltimore County schools for drug and alcohol offenses which occurred on school grounds, at school functions or at the bus stop.

The problem with the Carroll County policy and its enforcement is that Carroll County Public Schools oversteps its authority. Drug and alcohol offenses outside of school should be dealt with by parents and by the police.

Moreover, application of the policy is incredibly inconsistent. You must know that Carroll County students - athlete and non-athlete - violate drug and alcohol laws routinely. Yet the policy is applied sporadically.

Furthermore, where do you draw the line? How about students who visit or work in Ocean City in the summer? Who spies on them? Students who attend rock concerts are absolutely in proximity to underage youth abusing drugs and using alcohol. Has anyone ever disciplined them?

What resources does the ... system have to consistently and fairly enforce this policy? Staffs complain about overwork and low pay. Maybe they need to focus on academics and let the parents, police and community deal with ... substance abuse. ...

Additionally, there is the issue of due process. Given the scant information ... on the current brouhaha, it seems this time CCPS is truly acting as a latter day Gestapo. The kids were in a house with the parent present. Uninvited guests may have brought alcohol into the home.

Finally, what is truly abhorrent, is the fact that school administrators - bureaucratic drones, sycophants and control freaks - get carte blanche to enforce this shameless policy. Rescind this rule. It may have been conceived with good intent, but it's a bad rule.

Dennis Sirman


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