Suspension Debate Continues in Versailles
"Yeah, I might be sued," said David Dear, Morgan County School Board member. "The silence is broken. The school board doesn't know I'm talking to you, the superintendent doesn't know."
Versailles School Board member and town dentist David Dear says the district did the right thing by suspending Jordan Teeple from sports for the rest of her senior year.
"We were going into the volleyball playoffs. Our best player got booted off the team," Dear said. "Who let who down?"
In December, Jordan Teeple told KOMU she was in a car with alcohol and five friends. Dear says, because that qualified as possession of alcohol, it violated the Versailles athlete's Code of Conduct, which Teeple and her mother signed.
"The kids sign. Their parents witness. These are the rules," Dear said. "This is what happens when you break the rules."
It was not the first time the school suspended Teeple. In 2004, she admitted she went to a party which had alcohol.
"Last year, she should have learned what would happen to her if she broke the rules," Dear said. "She broke the rules again."
But, Teeple's father, Kenny, says rules in the Code of Conduct contradict the student handbook.
He points out students must be charged with a crime to be kicked off a team.
"What the kids do away from school is not their right, that's not their business," he added. "Let parents do it. The school's job is to educate these kids, not police them."
The school has started to address the issue at meetings where people defend or criticize the policy. At a meeting Monday night, Superintendent Jeff Carter appointed a committee to look at random drug testing and how to keep kids away from booze.
"I have had coaches coming to me and saying, 'You know, we probably ought to look at this,'" said Carter. "I think I've got some athletes that may or may not be experimenting."
Carter says the meeting had nothing to do with Jordan Teeple's suspension, but Kenny Teeple and another Versailles parent, Steve Henderson, joined the crowd.
"I don't really think it's the school's responsibility to see how my kids are raised," said Henderson.
And that's where another Versailles resident joined in.
"For any citizen of this county to say that the school board has nothing to say and has no role to play in the education of the children, they do," said Mel Gerber.
Henderson said, "I didn't, no, no, no. But they're taking, they're taking, they're reaching their arm out there, into their private lives."
Back at the dentist's office, it's point-counterpoint for Dear.
"Sports are a privilege, and not a guaranteed right."
He says he'll continue to support the school suspension.
"I was just frustrated by us being silent, which by state law we're supposed to be silent," said Dear. "We were looking guilty, and I didn't think we had anything to be ashamed of!"
Jordan Teeple graduated early from Versailles High School after her suspension. Kenny Teeple says he still plans to sue the school district.