After a year spent poring through every aspect of school athletic policies, district officials are putting their stamp on the revised handbook and passing it to the Jessamine County Board of Education for approval.
The school board has heard from deputy superintendent Owens Saylor and athletic director Ken Cox at each of its monthly work sessions since last summer and discussed different aspects of athletics policy from travel and coach-athlete relationships to music at games and coach-parent relationships.
Local officials have been aided in the process by Dara Bass, the Kentucky School Boards Association’s director of policy and e-meeting services. KSBA is working with 26 districts to revise their athletics policies; Bass said the average handbook is about 40 pages and that Jessamine County is one of only two districts whose handbook exceeded 60 pages.
“They are exceptionally thorough and have added a dozen new areas and expanded others to make it crystal clear what the rules of the game, so to speak, are and provide that information to their coaching staff,” she said. “My hat’s really off to them; they’ve taken it very seriously.”
Bass said coaches’ handbooks are especially useful to guide paraprofessionals who don’t teach in the district.
“Coaches are not necessarily members of the faculty, so that’s one way we went the handbook route as an option for districts, just to make sure that those folks who aren’t used to thinking about board-policy requirements would have some way to say, ‘Now, you’ve got to be aware of this because this is our board’s policy,’” she said.
Saylor and Cox met with the board in May 2011 to finalize belief statements that would guide the revisions.
The board discussed appropriate relationships between coaches and parents in October and acceptable contact between coaches and athletes in December shortly after the Penn State controversy in which a former coach was accused of molesting boys on campus.
In January, Saylor presented a policy change that would ban censored music and music deemed offensive or profane at athletic events.
“We don’t want innuendo or any kind of profanity,” Saylor said in January. “We’re even really concerned about music that’s been cleaned up — in other words, the theme is still there but the profanity’s been removed — we’re not going there any longer. Somebody’s going to have to be creative enough to pick things that don’t violate that notion.”
Bass said the policy was unique among the districts she has worked with.
“To my knowledge, no one has imposed that yet,” she said. “Remember, I’m only talking about 25 other districts, and they may be dealing with it some other way.”
Out-of-state athletic field trips have been a hot topic for the board, with several members concerned about the cost to parents.
At Monday night’s work session, Saylor proposed setting a “not-to-exceed” amount for cost to parents for out-of-state trips. The policy already includes a cost limit of $100 per day for each student with an option to go up to $200 per day if a team only travels out of state once every two years. The not-to-exceed amount would put a cap on the total cost of those trips.
The school board approves the coaches’ handbook each year but had not made significant changes since 1999. A first reading for approval of the handbook is set for Monday night. Coaches are trained on policies at an annual meeting before school starts.