Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

September 30, 2013

North Clay school board decision divides community

LOUISVILLE — LOUISVILLE — The suspension of athletes at North Clay High School has led to a divided school board, district and community.

After a group of high school athletes arrived at an administrator's residence intoxicated in August, the school launched an investigation, looking for students who were involved in the incident or with the purchase of the alcohol.

"Once the administrators began investigating it, more students were reporting others," said Superintendent Monty Aldrich. "It just sort of snowballed. Even though it didn't happen on our campus, according to our athletic policy we had to investigate."

Following the investigation, the administration found the students to be in violation of the athletic code. Aldrich would not say the number of students involved or the sports they participated in other than some of the students were involved in multiple sports.

North Clay has a zero tolerance policy involving athletes and use of alcohol, with violators being suspended from all athletics for one year. The board had approved the zero-tolerance policy when it approved the student handbook on Aug. 8 before the incident occurred. However, Aldrich said parents of some of the suspended students came before the school board, asking for reduced suspensions for their children. The board did overturn the 365-day suspension by a 5-2 margin at an emergency special board meeting on Sept. 6.

Aldrich said the board's decision has divided faculty, staff and students at North Clay.

"It's hit our whole community," he said. "There's two sides of it, but everyone is up in arms. It hasn't been pleasant."

At a meeting on Sept. 19, school board member Darrell McKnelly, who voted against overturning the zero-tolerance policy, resigned from the school board, effective immediately.

In a letter he read at the meeting, McKnelly said he felt overturning the policy represented a contradiction by the board and that the board failed to represent the interests of all student athletes in the school.

"I voted 'no' to overturn the discipline that was in place not because I wanted to see the players punished but because this was something that we, as a board, as well as the players and parents, had agreed to," he said. "I feel that we have opened a door to an endless list of future policy rules being challenged."

Some community members see the board's decision as cutting power from the administration, leaving any rule the school puts in place to be challenged by parents.

"I understand what the kids did was wrong, and I understand giving people second chances, but these kids knew the punishments," said Kevin Hammond, a parent of two children who attend North Clay schools. "They knew what was going to happen. It's left the administration in limbo. The board has kind of cut the power out of how we enforce the rules."

Hammond, who moved to the area between Kinmundy and Louisville after hearing recommendations about North Clay schools, said he thinks the board's actions have not only impacted the punished athletes, but the entire student body.

Text Only
Local News
  • Meth suspect pleads not guilty

    The Beecher City man accused of operating a methamphetamine lab in a Shumway home pleaded not guilty during a brief Thursday morning appearance in Effingham County Circuit Court.

    April 24, 2014

  • tony- community garden 2.jpg Perfect time to plant

    Steve Luchtefeld loves onions.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hofer hearing delayed

    Proceedings were continued Wednesday for an Effingham woman accused of driving under the influence of drugs at the time of a traffic accident that killed a Watson teenager on her way to school.

    April 24, 2014

  • Missouri driver ejected, killed Tuesday ST. ELMO -- A driver from Missouri was killed when the semi she was driving overturned on Interstate 70 Tuesday. Royce E. Horton, 50, of Highlandville, Mo., was driving a maroon and white Freightliner truck-tractor westbound at 3:36 a.m. Tuesday on I

    April 24, 2014

  • Stew-Stras to upgrade technology STRASBURG -- With no new technology purchased since 2011, new computers will finally be coming to Stewardson-Strasburg Schools starting next year. Superintendent Michele Lindenmeyer said the district will be rolling out technology in phases over the

    April 24, 2014

  • Semi driver dead in accident on I-70

    A semi driver from Missouri was killed when their vehicle overturned on I-70 Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Shumway meth suspects plead not guilty

    Two of the four arrested in a Shumway methamphetamine bust earlier this month pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Effingham County Circuit Court.

    April 22, 2014

  • Man found dead from gunshot wound ST. ELMO -- Fayette County authorities are investigating two unrelated deaths over the weekend. Matthew Austin, 47, of St. Elmo was found dead in his pickup by a family member at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at 501 W. Cumberland Road in St. Elmo. Austin appear

    April 22, 2014

  • Library seeks community support

    With a bid letting set for September and renovation of the old Fifth Third Bank slated to begin in December, the Library Board is actively looking for community support in fundraising. 

    April 21, 2014

  • Effingham man gets five-year sentence for meth lab

    An Effingham man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday on a charge of participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.