School District Closes 'Loophole' in Athletes' Code of Conduct

The Nazareth (Pa.) Area School Board put in place Monday stricter rules for student-athletes charged with drug offenses. The issue was addressed after two Nazareth High School wrestlers attempted to circumvent serving a suspension during the wrestling season by joining the cross country team in the fall.

Last September, standout seniors Ryan Krecker and Franco Ferraina were charged as juveniles with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, plus related charges stemming from an incident in July. Under the district's code of conduct policy at the time, each boy was required to serve a five-week suspension from all extracurricular activities. They joined Nazareth's cross country team and served their suspensions during the season, which in turn, allowed them to return to wrestling practice in the winter.

The school board unanimously approved a policy revision that effectively eliminates the ability of any student charged with a drug or alcohol offense to sign up for an extracurricular activity in an attempt to serve a suspension ahead of a later activity. Had such a policy been in place earlier, Krecker and Ferraina would not have been permitted to join the cross country team. "It closed the loophole we were looking for," board member Jerry Treon told

The updated policy, which applies to drug offenses off school property and for non-school events, goes even further and mandates the suspension from all extracurricular activities (including athletics) for an entire year. To be eligible to participate following the one-year suspension, the student and his or her parents will be required to meet with a counselor, and the student must complete 20 hours of community service.

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