Students reflect on Code of Conduct change


On Feb. 22, the USD 373 Board of Education voted to add language to the “The Railer Way Code of Conduct.” This added language stated that “every situation is different and administrators reserve the right to deviate from the Code of Conduct when deemed appropriate.” As of now, the Code of Conduct applies to all extracurricular KSHSAA activities – moving forward it will be all extracurricular activities.

“The policy language change means that when we have a violation situation that the administration that would include me or any of the other administrators, basically we have some discretion on how we would handle that situation,” Newton High School Athletic Director Brian Becker said.

Following the added language to the code, many members of the community attended the Feb. 27 board meeting to present their comments. There were many parents who spoke their opinion on the change, which allowed for more information about the situation to become public.

This information included how there was a video posted to social media showing a wrestler doing something illegal. The video that violated the code of conduct was posted right before state contest by an “angry ex-girlfriend.”

At the meeting on the 27th, board members commented on the code of conduct decision. One member, Luke Edwards, who voted to change the policy said, “If you laugh at somebody and call them a POS and put a picture of them on your social media I don’t want to support your plan […] I was trying to protect a kid from what I saw was a malicious thing.”

At the start of any activity, members/players have a meeting with Becker to discuss the code of conduct. At the conclusion of the meeting, all members/players sign off on a separate copy of the code. Signing the conduct means that signees agree to follow and uphold the conduct, and understand that violations of the code of conduct will have consequences. The change in the code caused confusion and concern for students at NHS.

“I feel like [the policy change] was something that was probably going to end up happening at some point, but it’s a little strange given the circumstances because of how many activities have happened without issues. This one came up because of a specific issue that was already previously addressed on what not to do,” senior Taylor Redington said. “As being in many activities I have to sit through the same meeting multiple times a year, and so having all the information I know what not to do, and so I just think it was kind of unnecessary to have to have this meeting and change but I guess they did what they felt was right.”

Brylie Hendricks is a sophomore cheerleader who faced a week of out-of-school suspension, one day of in-school suspension, and a two-week suspension from cheer. These consequences were due to administrators finding drugs in a period bag Hendricks was holding onto. Hendricks said, “I did not know [the drugs] were in there.”

“I think that [the policy] definitely needed looking at, but in the middle of the school year was not necessary and it could’ve waited until the end of this year to be changed, especially because it feels like it was only changed for one person. It doesn’t feel fair to others, especially people who have served consequences for their actions,” Hendricks said.

There are many students who face the consequences of the code of conduct every year. For all violations, Becker and other administrators follow the code of conduct to decide on appropriate consequences.

“It’s the fact that many other student-athletes have been screwed over by this rule because they enforce the code of conduct but just for one person they’re changing everything,” sophomore athlete Adah Hodge said. “It’s not really about just the person, it’s like a moral thing and so the fact that we’re changing the code of conduct now it’s unfair to all the other people that couldn’t participate in what they wanted to do.”

Another NHS sophomore involved in many sports and activities, Ani Koontz, had a similar opinion.

“It sets a precedent that like some people get to be treated differently than others and there’s a lot of people that work hard to be not doing illegal things and still participating in sports and it’s kind of like a slap in the face to them that this gets excused but other things haven’t in the past,” Koontz said.

Sophomore Jose Peralta, who faced consequences according to the code during the 2022-2023 school year, said,“I feel some people do get treated unfairly – whether it’s based on the color of their skin or not. I feel there are people getting treated unfairly, and I feel like the administrators choose sides on people who to be fair with and who not to be fair with.”

The board’s vote in favor of adding language to the code was 4-2. There are many students at NHS that believe this decision from the board was biased.

“I think it was a pretty biased decision and it was not fair to the athletes who have been caught and had more serious consequences and while it is wrong and against our code of conduct to do drugs, drink, every student should be treated the same,” senior athlete Aspen Schmidt said. “And all the rules that go around regarding punishment should be the same no matter the student, no matter what sport they’re in, no matter what point in the season they’re in, it should all be the same.”