Student Fights Suspension
Jordan Teeple would like to have been in the huddle at her school's away game, but she's watched her Versailles Lady Tigers from the stands because of booze. This october, during volleyball season, the 18-year-old high school senior said a highway patrolman pulled her and her five friends over.
"There was alcohol in the vehicle, the officer had given all six of us breathalyzer tests, and I tested zero," Teeple said.
She said she didn't drink, yet Teeple said school officials benched her from sports for the rest of the calendar year because alcohol was in the car, and because it was her second offense. The first offense was last year when Teeple said she was falsely accused of using alcohol at a party and school officials suspended her from sports.
"The thing with basketball didn't affect me last year as much as it did this year with volleyball. Because we were good, we were really good," Teeple said.
Teeple said her signature on a Code of Conduct agreement also led to the suspension this year. The code said if the student uses or possesses alcohol they are off the team for the rest of the season. Since she was in the car it qualified as a possession. The mandatory Code of Conduct is where Teeple's father said the school has too much control.
"Their job is to educate these kids and teach them. It's not to monitor what they do and try to control their personal lives 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year," said Kenny Teeple, Jordan's father.
The issue for the teeple family is just how far schools can go to keep players off the court for off campus behavior. They're asking, where schools draw the line.
"It's not the same standard as law enforcement, we don't have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," said Kelli Hopkins, Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) staff attorney.
Hopkins gives legal advice to schools for the MSBA.
"Participation in activities is different from going to school so the standards are different, the rules are different and that is consistent in all the court cases," Hopkins said.
Consistency is a problem for the Teeples. They point out the difference between the Versailles athlete Code of Conduct and the Student Handbook.
"The school said under their own guidelines that the student has to be charged before they'll be suspended. They didn't follow that, they just kicked them off all six of these kids and went on," Kenny Teeple said.
The Code of Conduct said only the use or possesion of alcohol could justify a student being removed from the team. No files have been charged and Jordan Teeple doesn't believe they will be.
"We shouldn't have been kicked off until charges were filed," Teeple said.
The school's athletic director wouldn't comment. The superintendent would not grant an interview either, but did send an email. He said a public meeting will take place in early January to see whether the Code of Conduct is "too prohibited or even needed."
Jordan Teeple said even though she didn't drink, she was still in the car with friends that October night.
"I think it was a personal decision, I thought I made a good decision, and I think other parents as well would have been happy if their kids wouldn't have drank. I can't control the actions of others," Teeple said.
Unless the school reverses its action, Jordan Teeple will watch from the stands with her father for the rest of her senior year. Jordan said the driver in the car that October night did not drink. Kenny Teeple said he's planning a possible lawsuit against the school district for its actions against his daughter.