Shenendehowa Central School District administrators met Tuesday with 12 student varsity hockey players to discuss how each will be disciplined after being accused of smoking marijuana at a hockey tournament, but they refused to publicly divulge the discipline meted out to each player.
“We won’t release how each student was disciplined. We never release it because the students are protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act,” said Shenendehowa spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani. The school district also refused to identify the suspended players.
The only time the district would release such information is if there were a health and safety risk to other students, she said.
Twelve players on Shenendehowa’s varsity ice hockey team were suspended for three games after they were accused of smoking marijuana on a road trip to a hockey tournament at SUNY Morrisville on Dec. 29-30.
The minimum discipline for each was a three-game suspension. Subsequent discipline depended on each individual’s level of infraction, said DeFeciani. “We are looking at possession of marijuana to using it,” DeFeciani said.
Also taken into consideration was whether the incident was the player’s first offense or if it is a repeated offense.
High School Principal Donald Flynt and Athletic Director Chris Culnan met with each student and his parent or guardian on Tuesday to discuss the actions that will be taken.
Each student is subject to discipline under the student code of conduct and the athletic code of conduct, and it could range from suspension from school to suspension from the hockey team, depending on the extent of involvement.
Once a ruling is made, the player has the right to appeal any penalty imposed within three days of the decision.
The district is also working with School Resource Officer Dale Palmer on the investigation, but further details were not available and he could not be reached.
Culnan called it a “deeply disturbing” incident.
The hockey coach, Juan de la Rocha, tried to focus on the hockey players who weren’t involved.
“The Shenendehowa hockey team has always prided itself on being a hardworking and dedicated athletic team on and off the ice,” de la Rocha said in a statement. “We are proud of the 16 players who honored the team and the athletic code of conduct. Right now our focus is on preserving their dignity and the dignity of the Shenendehowa hockey program.”
The coach did the right thing by bringing the incident to the attention of administrators, DeFeciani said. “It was an out-of-town tournament; he didn’t turn away.”
The 12 members of the hockey team will not be allowed to play in tonight's scheduled game with Glens Falls.