Diversionary Program Sparks Debate

June 28, 2017

In response to breaking a code of conduct by being involved in a party with alcohol, eight student-athletes at New Canaan (Conn.) High School were offered an alternative punishment. Instead of being on probation from their teams for 10 days, they were allowed to to participate in the local police department's “diversionary” education program, as reported by the NC Advertiser.

Jay Egan, New Canaan's athletic director, said he believed the program would have more of a positive influence on student-athletes than suspending them would.

“In 13 years as athletic director, I’ve tried, on numerous occasions, suspending athletes from games — sometimes very important games — but it  hasn’t changed behavior,” he said.

Maria Naughton, a member of the school board, said that while she understood that it “was a tough situation,” and believed in the importance of educating students, she had heard complaints that the decision to grant the opportunity to participate in the diversionary program instead of being suspended sent “mixed messages,” particularly since it was not applied in all cases.

“The policy that was applied wasn’t exactly the policy on our records,” Naughton said.

School board chair Dionna Carlson was more sympathetic to Egan's solution. 

“... at some level we need a partnership with the families,” and ”everybody needs to be in this together, we all need to be on the same page, parents, kids, teachers,” she said.

To Egan, Carlson said:

“Thank you for your efforts” and “thank you for your moral leadership;” it “will stay with them for their lifetime.”

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