Stamford Public Schools Should Take a Hint from the NFL


Artwork by Elana Rosinsky & Adrianne Caitan

Andrew Young, Staff Writer

Much like Stamford High over the past few months, the NFL has received a significant amount of negative publicity due to the recent actions of star player Ray Rice.  Rice, who was greatly respected on the field, was heavily attacked because of his behavior off of the field.  What was most frightening about this entire situation, however, is how Roger Goodell, and the NFL as a whole, handled it.  Many contradictory statements and confusing disciplinary actions caused frustration amongst owners, players, and fans alike.

On Wednesday, December 10, the NFL owners unanimously approved a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy that will hopefully eliminate all chaos and confusion that resulted from the Ray Rice scandal.  The policy will remove some power from the hands of the commissioner and place it into the hands of an NFL Conduct Committee.

According to the new policy, the NFL “will undertake an investigation conducted by the NFL Special Counsel for Investigations and Conduct, who will oversee the NFL’s investigatory procedures and issue initial discipline for violations of the policy.”  After the NFL investigation and criminal proceedings conclude, the Conduct Committee will decide what discipline, if any, is needed.  Rice will then have a chance to appeal the ruling, which will be heard by an “NFL Expert Review Panel.”

The NFL has made it clear in this policy that certain violations will not be tolerated under any circumstances.  For example, the policy explicitly states that “violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, or sexual assault will result in a baseline six- game suspension without pay.”

I commend the NFL for their adoption of this new policy, as it will allow for a much more organized course of action if another scandal similar to that of Ray Rice emerges in the future.  The NFL recognized its flaws in the previous personal conduct policy, and this revised policy is both fair and keeps the decision out of the hands of only the commissioner.

The Stamford Board of Education needs to take a serious look at their policy for matters in the future as we try to heal from the recent scandal involving former teacher Danielle Watkins and former administrators Donna Valentine and Roth Nordin.  Similar to the former personal conduct policy in the NFL, the process of making a decision as to whether or not Valentine and Nordin would be able to return to Stamford High School was strenuous and confusing for parents, teachers, students, and even the Board of Education itself.

The Board needs to develop an explicit policy that revolves around making decisions like these.  Perhaps what is most flawed in our current personal conduct policy is the fact that the superintendent alone makes a recommendation to the Board of Education as to whether or not the employee under investigation can resume his or her duties in the school system.  This was a primary reason for a change in the NFL policy, as many felt that Goodell had too much power.  With respect to the scandal involving Valentine and Nordin, if Dr. Hamilton had decided that the two administrators should return to the school, there would be little that the Board of Education could immediately do regardless of whether they disagreed with the decision.

Although it is obviously too late now, Stamford Public Schools should definitely consider adopting a personal conduct policy similar to the one that the NFL has recently instated.  Changes to the current policy will certainly aid in avoiding unnecessary confusion in the event of future incidents.