Saturday – We win a football game. One of my students is one of the stars.
Monday – That same student gets into a fight. I am one of the witnesses. It definitely seems like one of those incidents that started out as play fighting, but then became more serious. The student in question wrestled a student into the air before the Principal and I interrupted them. Then he took off running. He is suspended for three days.
Thursday – On the afternoon of the third day, I saw my student heading in the direction of football practice. Initially, when he sees me, he tries to hide and then gives up on the attempt. I contact the Principal and find that the suspensions of everyone involved in the fight has been reduced to three days. He has that discretion. But it still doesn’t make a lot of sense.
And still, if he was suspended for that third day – the Thursday – he should not have been going to practice.
I spend a lot of time texting that evening. A trusted colleague agrees to find out what he did at practice.
Friday – The next morning, my trusted colleague reports that a coach told him that my student was at practice, but did not participate. This overlooks the fact that he should not even have been on campus. And what does ‘participate’ mean? If he was receiving instructions, etc. about the game plan, then he’s benefitting from practice?
Friday is also game day. We are having a new field dedicated. It is a big deal. Suddenly, the switch from 5-day suspensions to 3-day ones smells worse. I email the Athletic Director and copy other administrators as well as my Union Rep. I see the Athletic Director in the hallway, and he assures me that I’ll be receiving a written response. I do not. I email again, copying both the CEO of our school district as well as the head of athletics.
Over the weekend, I receive an email from the Athletic Director stating that he did not have time and even if he did have time, the time right before the game was not the appropriate time to conduct an investigation. Since a player’s eligibility is at stake, I disagree. He tells me he will have a response for me in a “few” days.
I begin to think – not for the first time – about the legitimacy of the ‘eligibility cards’ the students ask us to complete. Generally, we have just a few minutes to do them. Currently, our grading program does not have either all of the information nor does it have the formula set to calculate grades. In other words, given all of the time and all of the information, I still could not calculate a student’s grade. I do not even know the formula. I have, before this point, just been making educated and often generous guesses. I am not doing that anymore.
I will wait until Wednesday afternoon. If my questions are not answered satisfactorily, then I will share my questions with members of the press who cover high school sports.
There is something wrong here. It may be minor. It may not even cost us this most recent win. My father taught me the ‘scratch ‘n sniff’ test, and this does not pass. I do not want my student or the team to suffer. Adults need to be held responsible.