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11 Boston-Area Student Athletes Suspended from Play Over Illicit Facebook Photos

Melrose High School

Is it fair to punish kids in school for something they did outside of school but displayed on Facebook?

Sometimes I think I’m turning into a prude in my old age. Then I read stories like this one.

Eleven varsity athletes from a suburb of Boston were recently suspended from participating in team sports after photos of them in possession of alcohol or tobacco were seen on Facebook. One athlete will be forced to miss 60 percent of his or her next athletic season.

A “concerned parent” was the one responsible for ratting out the kids in Melrose, Massachusetts, transferring the offending photos to a thumb drive and showing school administrators the proof.

“We’re serious when we say that being an athlete is a privilege, not a right,” Melrose Independent School District Superintendent Joseph Casey told the Boston Globe. “It was not done as a way to even a score or to make a statement.”

The student athletes are supposed to abide by Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic guidelines, although there is no standard for how to discipline actions that occur off school grounds and after school hours. Still, although the photos of the students were taken off campus and not during school hours, school officials said they felt “empowered to act based on the illicit substances present in the photos shared on social media.”

Furthermore, the superintendent and others and are still trying to identify where the photos were taken so the parents whose home the kids were photographed in can be charged with underage possession of alcohol and tobacco.

“We are not trying to interfere with what happens outside of schools,” Casey said. “[But] if you’re going to represent the school we expect you to uphold that image 24/7. We understand that people make mistakes, but there are consequences.”

It doesn’t seem entirely fair to me for kids to be busted in an official realm for photos displayed on Facebook. But I am more surprised that this school is so uptight about seeing kids drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes – outside of school. While, yes, it’s illegal, if that’s all they were doing, then the administrators need to get out more and realize it could have been a lot worse.

Suspending kids from healthy pursuits such as team sports to punish them for unhealthy behavior sends an odd message, I think.

Do you think these kids should be punished at school for something that was done off campus? And does the punishment fit the crime?

Image: Wikipedia

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