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08-25-06 Morals tackled on the gridiron

By William Kincaid

  Three school board members from Mercer County schools say they would be against allowing students to play football this season if a controversy in Kenton played out locally.

  Dailyn Campbell, 16, and Jesse Howard, 17, have pleaded no contest to charges of placing a decoy deer in a country road, causing a car crash that seriously injured two other boys. They were sentenced last week to 60 days in juvenile detention that will not be served until after the Kenton High School football season.

  As the Coldwater Cavalier football season begins tonight at Kenton, The Daily Standard asked board members from Coldwater Exempted Village Schools, Celina City Schools and St. Henry Consolidated Schools how they would react if the same incident -- where two football players were sentenced to 60 days in juvenile detention for the serious crimes -- were to happen at their school districts.

  "I have mixed feelings," Coldwater Board President Linda Steinbrunner told The Daily Standard this morning, speaking on behalf of herself and not the entire board of education. "Keeping kids in activities does deter some problems, but having done what they did ... in my heart they shouldn't play."

  Steinbrunner, who said she "would pray that such a situation would not happen at Coldwater," added that she was confused about why the judge got involved with the school -- mandating that the sentence be served after the football season.  According to Coldwater's district policy, students may be removed from extracurricular activities when the student's presence poses a continuing danger to persons or property or an ongoing threat of disruption in such a setting.

  Celina board member Amy Hoyng told the newspaper that speaking for herself -- not the entire board of education -- she would also be against allowing students to play football in the same situation.

  "If something like that happened, in my personal opinion, as long as we have a policy .... if I'm given the opportunity to say no you can't play, then no, they wouldn't play," Hoyng said.

  She said according to the athletic handbook, which both students and parents sign at the beginning of the year, the board has the right to not allow students to play sports if charged with a crime.

  "If it so happens they're going to miss a football season, they're going to miss a football season," she said. "There's more to life."

  St. Henry Local Schools Board President Ralph Nietfeld, who also spoke to the paper on behalf of himself and not the entire board of education, also said he would be against allowing students to play football in the same situation.

  Nietfeld said unless he could find some moral, justifiable reason for allowing the students to play, he would be against their participation. He added that a football season would not be a valid reason and he would vote to suspend them from the season.

  "Personally, I disagree with that (the judge's ruling)," Nietfeld said.

  According to St. Henry Local Schools' bylaws and policies, "participation in extra-curricular activities, including interscholastic sports, is a privilege and not a right. Therefore, the board of education authorizes the superintendent, principals and assistant principals and other authorized personnel employed by the district to supervise or coach a student activity program, to prohibit a student from participating in any or all extra-curricular activities ... for offenses or violation of the student code of conduct/student discipline code."


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