A number of Bemidji High School student-athletes have been suspended from competition for at least three weeks and/or three events for violating Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) and Bemidji High School policy over the weekend.
Because the student-athletes are juveniles, Bemidji High School officials cannot release the names, the number, the programs the players are involved in or the exact infractions.
"We can't give information that could lead to the identification of juveniles," said BHS principal Brian Stefanich.
Stefanich, after consulting with the school's human resources officials, was able to confirm that some student-athletes have been suspended from competition for violating the school and the MSHSL chemical policy.
"Multiple students and athletes were found in violation of district and Minnesota State High School League rules and we are implementing policy with the appropriate consequences for the violations," Stefanich said, adding that school officials are working with the Bemidji police department to determine the details of the incident.
MSHSL and BHS have implemented policies making the consumption or possession of alcohol, tobacco or any other controlled substance or drug paraphernalia a violation of policy.
For a first offense the MSHSL punishment for violating that policy is a loss of eligibility for the next two consecutive interscholastic contests or two weeks, whichever is greater, of a season in which the student is a participant.
A second violation would result in the student losing eligibility for the next six consecutive interscholastic contests or three weeks, whichever is greater.
Schools, however, have the power to institute more severe punishments and Bemidji High School officials are among those who chose to do so.
On pages 63 and 64 of the 2011-12 student handbook, the rule and its punishment states:
"It is expected that all students who participate in an extracurricular activity at Bemidji High School will not possesses, buy, use or sell any tobacco product, mood-altering chemical or steroids. Students in attendance at a 'kegger' party, night club or in a vehicle where alcohol is present without being accompanied by a parent, will be deemed as being in possession of alcohol. Students in attendance at a 'kegger' party, nightclub or in a vehicle where any substance defined by law as a drug is present will be deemed as being in possession of those substances. This rule applies to each participant for the entire calendar year, both in and outside of the defined school day."
The BHS penalty for the first violation is the loss of eligibility for the next 21 days of the season or for the next three contests, whichever is greater.
For a second violation the penalty is the loss of eligibility for the next 42 days or the next six contests, whichever is greater.