Ford Releases Statement on Drug Charges

Harrisonburg Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Don Ford released the following statement Tuesday regarding school policies and drug charges:

"It has been reported in the local media that one of our student athletes was charged with a violation of the law last week. Due to confidentiality laws, I am unable to discuss any individual student's behavior.

"I am, though, willing to provide the following information:

"Our Student Athlete Handbook addresses off campus behavior as follows:

"'Violation Off School Property and Not at School Related Event'

"'It is not the role of school officials or coaches to try to control student behavior that occurs during non-school time, off school grounds, and at non-school related activities. Parents, law enforcement personnel, and the courts are the adult representatives who bear responsibilities when violations of the law occur at such times. However, student athletes are indeed representatives of our school and have an obligation to serve as role models. Participation in athletics is a privilege, not a right, and is dependent on meeting reasonable rules and expectation. Therefore, drugs and alcohol violations that occur off campus at non-school related activities can still have consequence for student athletes.'

"Further, our handbook states:

"'Special Circumstances'

"'If a student/athlete is charged with a criminal offense, he/she may be suspended from the team until the outcome of the judicial process. Conviction of a misdemeanor will be reviewed by the Coaches and Administration to determine the appropriate consequences. If the student/athlete is convicted of a felony, he/she forfeits their opportunity to participate for a minimum of one calendar year. To be reinstated to athletic teams, the athlete will be subjected to review by the Administration and Athletic Department for approval.'

"Our school board and administration have made it very clear that we will not tolerate illicit drug use or violations of our state's laws by our students. Any time a report comes to our school administration, athletic director, or a coach that a student has been charged with an off campus drug violation, we verify the report and then suspend the athlete from the team. With regard to the current situation being reported in the local media, neither the track coach, the athletic director, the school administrators, not any of our central office administrators knew of any allegations of misconduct in this matter until our athletic director was approached [Monday] afternoon by a member of the media."


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