At its June meeting, the Haddonfield Board of Education was interested in looking into a voluntary policy to steer students away from destructive decisions such as underage drinking and drug abuse. The BOE used its July meeting/retreat as an opportunity to discuss a possible Leadership Honor Code.
The board does not want the new code to reflect its former discontinued 24/7 policy, which allowed the school district to ban students from participating in extra-curricular activities due to incidents that happened outside school. Instead, the BOE is interested in a new policy serving as a tool to help bring the conversation on things such as underage drinking and drug abuse to light and create a culture that would steer students away from such acts.
With the discussed Leadership Honor Code, student leaders would have to sign the code and, if found to be doing illegal activities, would have to step down from their leadership role. However, those students would still be able to participate in school activities. Leadership position examples given were team captains, presidents of clubs and peer leaders.
The board came up with the idea to have the students facilitate the new code, perhaps talking to clubs such as Bulldawgs Against Destructive Decisions and having club members establish a narrative to help change the school culture.
“It is about putting tools in the hands of students. Right now, our students don’t have any tools; they have no reason to say ‘no,’” Superintendent Richard Perry said. “This gets discussion and conversation going and brings these issues out into the light. If we can put all of these things together, I think it can work.”
Haddonfield Education Association Co-President Corrine Welsh said this code should be discussed in a way that focuses on health and safety. She said getting across the idea that doing things such as drinking underage may be unhealthy and foolish, but you can still be a good person, could be effective.
“I think if it is framed around health and safety, they’ll be more open to (the policy),” Welsh said.
“I think this could be a student-led discourse that this isn’t about punishment, it is about making sure everyone is receiving support,” board member Maureen Eyles said.
The school is planning to have parents, coaches and advisors behind the new code and supporting and implementing the idea. The Leadership Honor Code would be for students in grades six to 12.
“(If this policy is successful), we would be breaking ground here,” Perry said.
The Policy Committee will look into the Leadership Honor Code and work on a draft. Perry hopes to have it implemented for this school year.