Starting this fall, all coaches and club advisers in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 must sign and adhere to a code of conduct outlining appropriate behavior standards, the school board decided on Thursday.
The two-page code, which was discussed at a previous meeting, is general but comprehensive, outlining in part that coaches and advisers should exhibit professional behavior toward officials, refrain from use of profane or abusive language, not condone harmful behavior between teammates and exemplify ethical behavior and sportsmanship. Students already sign a code of conduct before joining a sport or activity.
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Under the plan, all coaches and advisers, whether they work for the district or are volunteers, will be required to sign the code of conduct at the beginning of the activity season as part of discussion about goals and expectations for the upcoming year.
The assistant principal for student activities in each building will be responsible for conducting investigations into violations and will report to the district associate superintendent for human resources to ensure issues are handled uniformly across the district's schools, according to the code.
Although Superintendent Dave Schuler said there was no specific incident that led to necessitating the code, a few parents spoke up in support of the idea, which they said is much needed in sports and activities.
Judy Collins, a parent from Arlington Heights, said a major violation such as showing up drunk to a sporting event would clearly be addressed, but she worries about smaller instances of disrespect or harassment toward students that may be more likely to occur and less likely to be reported.
Collins said she was concerned about the way coaches may speak to students on the sidelines or during practices and said she hopes the code will serve as an extra tool for parents who might not feel they have any recourse if their child is feeling bullied by an adult supervisor.
"Sometimes parents feel like they can't do anything about it because they're worried about playing time or making the situation even worse for their student," she said.
Collins suggested having an impartial observer sometimes monitor sports practices or halftime talks to help administer the code.
"We hear every day about children bullying other children, but what about when it's the coaches or adviser bullying our children?" she said.