Northwest NEWS

November 15, 1999

Local News

BHS hands out community service punishment

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   BOTHELL--Some Bothell High student-athletes, who took part in unsupervised homecoming parties in hotel rooms rented by some students' parents on Oct. 23, have apparently formed a "non-disclosure pact" to avoid punishment for alleged alcohol use, according to Bothell Principal Al Haynes.

   The Northshore School District's athletic code, signed by every participant, prohibits athletes from imbibing in alcohol or drugs. Haynes has been criticized by some parents for handing out penalties less severe than dictated by the code, which calls for 20-day suspensions from team participation.

   The code states that all who sign it must agree to leave any location immediately after discovering any alcohol or drugs are present. A four-member team of Bothell High administrators reduced the penalties to 20 hours of community service for any student-athletes who admitted even being at the parties.

   None of the partying students they questioned would substantiate actual drinking violations by others or themselves. They all denied drinking and said they left the parties after seeing alcohol there, but said they didn't see anyone else drinking. The school district could not suspend students based only on hearsay without facing legal challenges, Haynes said.

   Some parents are upset that the incidents occurred and feel the students should take responsibilities for their violations. Others have said they don't agree that student-athletes should be treated differently from the non-athletes that attended the parties. The school has a "zero-tolerance" policy that automatically suspends any students who use alcohol or drugs on school property, but only athletes can be disciplined for such violations on private property.

   Northshore School District administrators, some Bothell High parents and staff members, including Haynes, question the judgment of parents who rented hotel rooms, thereby encouraging children to undermine district rules and break the law.

   "These boys have done a lot of damage to their own integrity and character that they don't even realize right now," said Brad DeLuca, team statistician, whose son is a junior on the football team. "From what I heard, it appears no one told the truth. If you have parties with alcohol in three hotel rooms, and you hear about the party and go to it, isn't it pretty likely that you know about the drinking before you go? Character and integrity are learned at home; schools are not responsible for teaching that.

   "What these kids learned from this incident is that character and integrity don't mean anything. As long as they stick together ... they won't have to take responsibility for their actions. When people sign their names on a piece of paper, they should live up to it."