The appellant, Travis Childs, seeks reversal of a decision made by the North Scott Community School District Board of Directors on November 13, 2006. The decision was to support the administration's decision to suspend him for one year from all athletic participation, because he violated the District's good conduct policy for a third time.
During the 2006-07 school year, the appellant was an 18-year-old senior at North Scott High School where he was a member of the varsity football team. He does not dispute he drank beer at his residence with his stepfather on October 25, 2006. The next day, Associate Principal Wood was made aware of the situation when a teacher reported smelling alcohol on him, and that he vomited in a school locker room. Believing the appellant had maybe been drinking alcohol at school, he called the appellant's mother, who informed Mr. Wood the appellant had drank beer the night before.
North Scott has a good conduct policy for its secondary students who participate in extracurricular activities, including interscholastic sports. It says, "Activity participants shall not possess or use alcoholic beverages, marijuana, or controlled substances. ?In the event the activities participant has consumed or is in possession of alcohol/drugs They [sic] will be issued the [following] penalties: First Offense: Penalty is either 11% or 22% of the sport season, depending on whether the student agrees to obtain a chemical abuse evaluation; Second Offense: Penalty is ineligibility for 44% of the season in which the activities participant normally is a participant; Third Offense: Suspension for one year from all activities. Suspensions will carry into post season and, if necessary, the next activity season. The appellant violated the good conduct policy first as a sophomore, then again as a junior. The District views his consumption of beer at home on October 25, 2006 as his third violation of the policy.
When students at North Scott High School desire to participate in an extracurricular activities or sports program, they must sign and return to the school an Acknowledgment Form. One thing the form states is the student agrees to abide by the good conduct policy in the student handbook. When the District is aware that a form has not been returned, the coach is to inform the student that until the form is turned in, that student's participation is suspended. The appellant signed the form all but his senior year at North Scott High School. The District's administration did not discover this until during the course of this appeal. He admittedly played varsity football for the District this fall without the Acknowledgment Form having been returned, and Superintendent Dose testified there have been no changes to the District's good conduct policy during the time the appellant has been in high school.
The State Board of Education will not overturn a local Board's decision unless it is unreasonable and contrary to the best interest of education. The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled schools and school districts may govern out-of-school conduct of its students who participate in extracurricular activities. May the District punish the appellant in any way because it did not enforce its requirement that students return the Acknowledgment Form? While the District probably should have withheld the appellant's participation in varsity football until he signed the form, not doing so does not mean the District cannot enforce its good conduct policy. May the District punish the appellant because he did not violate Iowa Code by drinking beer at home? While this act is not a misdemeanor crime, the State Board and other courts have upheld good conduct policies that prohibit student conduct that is not otherwise punishable in the justice system as a crime. If the District may punish the appellant, should it be for a first or third offense of the good conduct policy? The District's good conduct policy is not required to specifically and precisely state that students do not start each school year with a clean slate under the policy. It is sufficient that the District consistently treats all violations of the policy as cumulative.
Based on the above, the decision of the local Board made on November 13, 2006, finding that Travis Childs committed his third violation of the District's good conduct rule and upholding the consequence given to him by District administration, is upheld.