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Santa Fe board dismisses parent code of conduct plan

SANTA FE, N.M. — If discussion of a proposal to create a parent code of conduct to address unruly behavior at interscholastic athletic contests held during a special meeting of the Santa Fe school board Tuesday night had been an actual sporting event, it would have ended in a rout.

Board President Steven Carrillo failed to win support from his colleagues for such a policy, which at its extreme would have called for the removal of a student-athlete from a team if their parent engaged in unsportsmanlike behavior three times during the school year.

“I don’t support this at all,” said board member Lorraine Price. “The notion that we would even consider holding children responsible for adult behavior is outrageous, absolutely outrageous.”

Board members said incidences of unruly behavior by parents or fans was rare in Santa Fe and that the board should concern itself with more pressing issues.

The board’s vice president, Maureen Cashmon, said she felt there were already two policies — one relating to visitors on campus and the other having to do with conduct on school campuses — that addressed behavior by parents and fans attending athletic events.

“I’m not sure we need this, and I definitely don’t want a child to be responsible for their parents’ behavior,” she said.

Carrillo said he raised the idea after hearing from coaches and referees who complained about being heckled by fans during school athletic events. He said having a separate policy addressing behavior at athletic events would give the school district something to point to when a parent became unruly.

“It’s basically getting it on paper so parents and kids and adults that attend games understand the rules and the consequences,” he said.

SFPS athletic director Larry Chavez said there was actually a third policy that addresses civility that would also apply.

“We also try to be proactive. We try to talk to all the parents at the preseason meetings. That’s our time to educate them, really set the standards, wet expectations and really let them know what we have in place, not only in athletics but district-wide,” said Chavez, who told the Journal in an interview after the meeting he had to deal with unruly parents only “a handful” of times last year.

While no formal vote was taken, Carrillo polled the board to see if they wanted to hear a staff presentation on the matter at its Aug. 7 meeting. None of the four other board members were interested.

The New Mexico Activities Association, which administers interscholastic sports, last month formally adopted a new bylaw addressing unruly behavior by fans, making the individual schools responsible for the behavior of not only its coaches and players, but also its fans.

The bylaw that will go into effect during the upcoming school year gives the NMAA’s executive director the authority to impose penalties for behavior that hinders or interrupts and event or endangers or threatens the safety individuals involved.

“Unsportsmanlike conduct by coaches, students, and or spectators may cause the school or individual to be placed on probation or suspension for 180 school days/365 calendar days,” it states.

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