The Lakeland Union High School Board of Education adopted a new policy Monday requiring all co-educational out of district and overnight field trips to have both a male and female chaperone.
Though members of the board were in consensus about requiring male and female chaperones for all co-educational overnight field trips, concerns from staff lead to questions from the policy committee as to whether those same requirements are necessary for co-educational out of district trips.
Under the new policy, both activities director Phil Updike and class advisor Leah Trojan had concerns about being able to secure the required amount of chaperones.
“Then, therefore, she would have to cancel the trip,” board member Barb Peck asked. “Now, is that what we want to have happen?”
Peck said the policy committee could not come to a consensus and requested the board’s input.
“Do we need to specify what ‘day’ is?” board member Shari Nimsgern asked. “Is that, like, an eight-hour day? Are you saying a work day? I know it’s a technicality, but what does ‘day’ mean?”
Peck said a daytrip would be any trip that wasn’t an overnight.
Board member Barry Seidel asked if Nimsgern’s concern was with coaching and athletic trips.
“The question is, if we have female athletes, how many times are men specifically in charge that there aren’t women involved on that coaching staff as well,” Seidel said.
According to other members of the board, as well as principal Justin Szews, there were several sports teams where the majority, if not all, of the team members were of the opposite gender to their coach.
“We were told that it would create a real issue with sports if we required it for sports teams,” Peck said.
“He (Updike) strongly cautioned, just from a practical feasibility standpoint it would be a challenge to implement that, and quite expensive as well,” district administrator Rob Way said. “Obviously we will do what we gotta do, but that would be a big game change for sure.”
Board member Jon Berg said he felt as though any time a trip was co-educational that both male and female supervision was required.
In contrast to Berg, board member Emily Hallstrom said her feeling was that a member of administration or the athletics director would know about daytime trips, whether they occur before, during, or after school hours, that could serve as a point of contact if something were to come up.
Another concern brought up was with how students are transported throughout the day when staff was involved.
Szews stated that, as a “rule of thumb,” students were not supposed to be transported by one individual.
“I can’t tell you it’s never happened, but that’s not advisable,” he said.
“I’m just trying to think in the future, hockey in particular. With the girls, not knowing where that’s going and if any girls would start playing back on the boys’ hockey team,” Nimsgern said. “You got late nights. Only men. And you have a girl on the team. That’s day. I guess that’s where I’m thinking.”
Nimsgern also mentioned tennis tournaments lasting later into the evening where parents took their children home.
“And it dwindles down to only a few girls with one male coach, that’s where I’m thinking,” Nimsgern said. “Looking long-term, do you want to set this policy that is going to be able to address the future, or are we just looking right now what’s an easy fix?”
The board first voted to require male and female chaperones for all overnight co-ed trips and passed that portion of the policy unanimously.
A second motion to require male and female chaperones for all out of district, non-overnight, co-ed trips was raised by Hallstrom and seconded by Berg.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to build a parent base to help support, these would be not necessarily volunteer positions, they would be utilized, they would get paid for their involvement,” Berg said. “I just think, for the benefit of the students and our district, it warrants us to be proactive in this sense and have both male and female chaperones for trips.”
The motion passed 4-3, with board members Peck, Hallstrom, and Seidel voting against.
Board members Gary Smith and Pam Carroll were absent.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]