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Annapolis

Anne Arundel public schools take steps to curb violence at sporting events with new rules

Following several altercations at sporting events in the first two weeks of school, Anne Arundel County Public Schools is implementing new rules regarding student and fan behavior.

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Starting Friday, anyone engaging in violent behavior will be banned from attending games for 90 days, Superintendent Mark Bedell wrote in a letter to parents Wednesday.

In addition, the new guidelines state that all elementary and middle school students attending games at any county school facility must be accompanied by an adult.

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In the letter, Bedell noted the new rules were in response to multiple incidents at school sporting events since classes resumed Aug. 29, but did not specify what games. He emphasized a zero-tolerance policy is being instituted for those wishing to engage in violent or disruptive behavior.

“Attendance at these events is a privilege, not a right,” Bedell wrote, “and those who wish to engage in activities that run afoul of school system regulations and, at times, the law should not be permitted to ruin the experience for those who attend these events to support our student-athletes.”

While recent incidents have caused Bedell to implement changes, similar situations have persisted over the past few years, said Bob Mosier, spokesperson for Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

“This isn’t about trying to punish people,” said Mosier who declined to specify what schools were involved but said the incidents haven’t been isolated to a certain school or sport. “It’s about trying to create a safe, secure and welcoming environment for students and fans alike.

“Bottom line we have an obligation to our students and to those who come to our buildings and facilities to support our students. If you want to act up, you have to go.”

Similar rules were instituted last week at Old Mill High School after a fight broke out at a football game between Old Mill and North County Sept. 2, sources familiar with the situation told The Capital.

In a Sept. 7 social media post, Old Mill officials advised parents that unaccompanied students who aren’t in high school would be turned away from football games and that certain areas of the stadium, such as around the old concession stand and behind the bleachers, would be blocked off. Anyone found there would be removed immediately, the officials wrote.

The post also banned ball playing and other games inside the stadium as well as backpacks, and outside food and drinks. It noted that a Sept. 9 game against Fort Hill would start at 5 p.m., two hours earlier than normal. Access to the stadium parking lot would close at the end of the third quarter and loitering in the parking lot after the game is prohibited, they wrote.

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“If you are involved in any type of altercation or disruption at the event, you will be removed and banned from all athletic events for the remainder of the season, or longer,” according to the letter signed by Athletic Director Pat Cary, Principal Ali Mikeska and Assistant Principal Bernie Edwards.

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Other school systems in the region have experienced violence at sporting events since the fall semester began.

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A fight in the crowd at a Howard County high school football game Sept. 2 caused the game to be suspended. Security personnel and Howard County Police were able to disperse the crowd, and no serious injuries were reported. Two similar incidents occurred at Frederick County high school football games this week, according to local news reports.

Bedell warned that the school system could take further action to curb violence and keep sporting events safe, including changing the times and dates of games and potentially limiting attendance.

“We want to continue to provide as many opportunities for our students both inside and outside of the classroom as possible,” Bedell wrote. “Our school system, however, will continue to take appropriate steps to help ensure that venues for athletics and other extracurricular activities are safe and welcoming environments where supporters can focus on the event and not be distracted by inappropriate behavior. "

Capital reporter Bill Wagner contributed to this report.


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