Video: Bill Prohibiting Student Participation in School Activities After Conviction/Restraining Order Passes House

State Rep. Pat Heinert (R-Bismarck) carries SB2249 on the House floor today.

You wouldn’t think that our state would need a law like the one SB2249 proposes. You’d think that, should a student be convicted of a felony or restrained by a permanent protection order, the local coaches/teachers/administrators/school board would act, at the very least, to bar that student from participation in things like sports.

Not to mention the parents.

But things tend to get a little crazy where high school activities are involved, sports in particular.

What the bill would do is make it the law that no student may participate in extracurricular school activities if they’re convicted of a felony crime or restrained by a permanent protection order.

During the floor debate, supporters of the bill including bill carrier Rep. Pat Heinert (R-Bismarck) and Rep. Mark Owens (R-Grand Forks) referred to a case where a baseball player under indictment for sexual assault was allowed to continue playing baseball to the chagrin of his victim.

I would have thought the schools already have this authority. I think they should have it, if they don’t already. But I’m not sure I’m comfortable with putting in place a blanket policies for dealing with these situations.

He apparently pleaded guilty to the charge after the season was over.

The bill, though, would require a conviction and/or a permanent protection order to kick in, prompting some lawmakers to question what the legislation would accomplish.

Rep. Mike Schatz (R-New England) said the bill would be “making law based on emotion” to deal with “one specific situation.”

Rep. Tom Beadle (R-Fargo) said the North Dakota High School Activities Association, which had apparently requested the legislation, was “being spineless.” He said they that group, along with the local schools, already have enough authority to remove a student from an activity based on their behavior.

Rep. Chris Olson (R-West Fargo) wondered by the bill mandated removal from an activity, rather than just giving local school boards the authority to make that decision for themselves, which is a good point.

Again, I would have thought the schools already have this authority. I think they should have it, if they don’t already. But I’m not sure I’m comfortable with putting in place a blanket policies for dealing with these situations. Where one case may be a clear cut, another may be more ambiguous.

Better to give local officials discretion than to create one-size-fits-all policy from the state level. Which is the point opponents of the bill were trying to make, I think, though they failed.

The bill passed 54-37. The House amended the Senate’s version (they exempted temporary restraining orders from the law), so the bill will have to be reconciled between the two chambers before it goes to Governor Doug Burgum for signature.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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