In the recent Londonderry School Board meeting, held on Tuesday (Jul. 16), the board members were presented with a first reading of amendments for a 11 policies and a first reading for the rescind of seven more. All policies are being updated to answer the state regulations and federal laws.
One of the amended policies regarded student conduct, discipline and due process. This policy outlines the regulations and procedures that any Londonderry school administration has to follow. The law was changed recently and allows now the school’s superintendent to impose a long-term suspension when necessary. Before this change, the superintendent was only allowed to add a 10-day suspension to a 10-day suspension given by the school’s administration, before the student’s case had to be brought in front of the School Board.
Another change with this policy is regarding an expulsion from school in a case where a student has firearm on school property. By state law, a mandatory expulsion of one year is required if this situation occurs, but the amendment leaves room for the superintendent to modify the expulsion in certain circumstances, if the student goes through all the appeal steps, including a written message that helps him explain why he should be allowed to return to school.
One situation that was presented as an example is of a student who went hunting, left his firearm in his vehicle and entered the school property with this vehicle. In this case, the superintendent will have to recommend his expulsion and the School Board will most likely expel him as the mandatory procedure requires, but now, the superintendent has the power to allow that student to go back to school within that one-year expulsion, if he decides to do so.
The board was asked to consider for administration to be able to give up to 10 days suspension for any prohibited substance brought to school, including a vape. Law enforcements will have to be informed on some cases, which are considered criminal, but the administration will have the basic power. Any substance used for becoming intoxicated is regarded as a prohibited substance.
The Life of a Lancer, will now be bound to a new policy of its own. The program started five year ago, by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Administration (NHIAA), but when it was put in place by Londonderry, the School District felt that they wanted it to apply not just to athletes, but also to any student that is involved in extracurricular activities.
Under the old policy a student that was caught with a prohibited substance on school property was ineligible to participate in his extracurricular activity for 180 days (90 days, if he participated in a substance abuse program). The policy was recently discussed with parents and other Division I schools and all the sides felt that the 180 ineligibility days are too harsh for students, who sometimes make mistakes. That policy does not allow the student to be part of a positive community, where they would be surrounded by role models and friends.
The School District is now asking for the School Board to consider shortening the 180 days of ineligibility. The suggested change will allow a student who is caught and participates in a substance abuse program to return to his extracurricular activity after 20 days, similar to a situation where a student is caught with prohibited substance outside of school property. The 20-day ineligibility from participation in his/her extracurricular activity will begin after the student returns to school following his suspension (Making it actually more than 20 days). The student will also have to complete 10 hours of community service.
For a second offense, it will be a 40-day ineligibility period and 20 hours of community service and in case of a third offense, the student will be totally restricted from participation in any extracurricular activities, until he or she goes through a procedure with the School Principal, the Athletic Director and more.
The Londonderry High School Athletic Director, Howard Sobolov, said, “When we started Life of a Lancer, the consequences for a use of prohibited substances was removal from the sports team, period.” He then explained: “We just felt that their removal from the team didn’t really help anybody. It was punishment, but it certainly wasn’t restorative justice. The kids didn’t have the opportunity to work on themselves and receive help.”