Update August 22nd: The four students will not be permitted to play football. Updated post HERE.
Ever wonder why some Americans consider the Federal government the enemy? Here's one reason: On Monday July 28th, a Syracuse High School faculty committee chaired by the principal will decide if a number of Syracuse High School students who were arrested for committing a series of planned burglaries over a three-month period will be allowed to play high school football this fall. But Federal privacy laws actually bar the school from publicly announcing the decision after it is made. Full story published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner; also reported by KSL Channel 5 with video.
Syracuse High School Principal Craig Hansen actually could decide the issue all on his own, but instead, he has chosen to convene a committee of administrators, teachers and coaches to help make the decision. The committee will determine if four of the six Syracuse students who committed the burglaries will be allowed to play football this fall. The other two students are not aspiring to play football, and this is a separate issue from whether or not they will be permitted to attend classes.
Why the uncertainty? Because while lousy grades, cigarette smoking, crimes against the school and other no-nos have specific policies regarding athletes' eligibility to play, there is no explicit school policy that says students convicted of felonies that are unrelated to school are forbidden from participating in high school athletics. Likewise, the policies of the Davis School District and the Utah High School Activities Association are equally silent on the issue. However, the athletic association specifically dictates that principals have sole discretion in determining eligibility and that student participation in sports is not an inalienable right, but a privilege which can be withdrawn.
So far, Craig Hansen has refused to give his personal opinion on the desired outcome. Perhaps he doesn't want "command influence" to contaminate the committee's deliberations before the fact. The committee can choose between probation, suspension, and permanent removal. However, Hansen acknowledges that he's been deluged with public opinion, and it's overwhelmingly against allowing the teens to play again. But even though Hansen himself officially remains tight-lipped, senior class officer Jill Myers told reporters that Hansen believes the teens' crimes are very wrong. Myers also said that the reputations of the teens has already suffered and many of her peers are refusing to associate or talk with them.
But once the decision is made, Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams said neither the district nor the school will be allowed to release the decisions of Hansen's committee because of federal privacy laws, even though the court case files of the accused are available to the public because the crimes they are accused of would be felonies if they were adults. But Williams said the public will be able to draw its own conclusions about the committee's decision by checking the football team's roster.
The first Syracuse High School Titans football game of the season is August 22nd against the Roy High School Royals. If Syracuse High allows the burglars to return to the team, I would hope the Roy High School players would have the moral courage to consider taking a forfeit and refuse to play Syracuse. Likewise, I would hope every other Syracuse opponent would consider taking the same action.
We must keep the pressure on. Both the football coach and the athletic director will likely be part of the committee, and, as I reported in my previous post, both are weak sisters who want the kids to play again, because they are supposedly good and the team was winless last year. Contact Principal Craig Hansen by clicking HERE to access his e-mail page. Contact him and urge him NOT allow the students to play football this fall.
What's just as outrageous is the Federal privacy laws that forbid the district from reporting the results. That delays the ability of the citizens whose taxes pay for the schools to hold the school fully accountable for their decision. This becomes particularly important if the school decides to let the teens play football; the citizens would have the right to know that immediately so they could hold the school accountable.
Once again, the Federal government, in a spurious attempt to protect privacy, actually obstructs justice.