Out­laws Or­ga­ni­za­tion Seeks School An­swers

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACK­SON mjack­son@escalon­times.com

Long­stand­ing con­cerns stem­ming from an in­ci­dent of bul­ly­ing well over a decade ago have prompted El Por­tal Mid­dle School of­fi­cials to cur­tail the wear­ing of Escalon ‘Out­laws’ foot­ball jer­seys by play­ers from the youth foot­ball or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Typ­i­cally, stu­dents play­ing for a team have worn the jer­seys on Fri­days, as their older coun­ter­parts at Escalon High School wear their Cougar jer­seys on game days.

But stu­dents last week at El Por­tal were told they couldn’t wear them, prompt­ing some par­ents of stu­dents to ques­tion the pol­icy.

“Other years they have let them wear them,” par­ent Jes­sica Rozevink pointed out.

She said her son, who now plays for the Out­laws, is one of those af­fected by the jersey ban.

“He played for Big Val­ley for years and wore his jersey, there was never a prob­lem,” she said. “Now he plays for Escalon, for the Out­laws, and he can’t wear it? It is not against the dress code to wear any jersey.”

Escalon Uni­fied School Dis­trict

Su­per­in­ten­dent Ron Costa said each school in the dis­trict has the right to en­force cer­tain dress code re­quire­ments.

“There were is­sues of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment of stu­dents that were tak­ing place on cam­pus by team mem­bers of the Out­laws,” Costa said of the long ago in­ci­dent. “This would hap­pen when they were wear­ing their jer­seys and hang­ing around as a group. At that time, school site ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ter­mined that the wear­ing of Out­law jer­seys was caus­ing an is­sue at school so the school lim­ited the wear­ing of Out­law jer­seys. This has been in place since that time.”

Costa said El Por­tal ad­min­is­tra­tors met with Out­laws pres­i­dent Milo Al­varado and dis­cussed a com­pro­mise that would al­low the play­ers to wear the Out­laws jer­seys for home games.

“If there are no prob­lems of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, I be­lieve the school would be open to al­low­ing the wear­ing of jer­seys more fre­quently,” Costa added.

Rozevink, mean­while, said many Out­laws par­ents didn’t un­der­stand why al­low­ing them to wear them for home games would be any dif­fer­ent than also wear­ing them on ‘away’ game weeks. She planned to speak at the Tues­day night, Sept. 4 school board meet­ing – held after The Times went to press – and hoped to get some an­swers re­gard­ing the is­sue. She said sev­eral par­ents had in­di­cated they would turn out for the meet­ing in sup­port.

“The El Por­tal dress code says that in is­sues that are sub­jec­tive, the Prin­ci­pal shall be the fi­nal au­thor­ity,” Costa added. “Stu­dents play­ing on other teams are able to wear their jer­seys be­cause there has not been an is­sue of bul­ly­ing or ha­rass­ment from stu­dents wear­ing other team jer­seys. Also, our job is to en­sure that stu­dents re­main safe and are not bul­lied or ha­rassed at school. Our job as school ad­min­is­tra­tors is to make school a safe place for all.”

Rozevink said she un­der­stands why the jer­seys were ini­tially banned, when the ha­rass­ment oc­curred and sup­ports that orig­i­nal de­ci­sion, but feels that stu­dents now shouldn’t be pun­ished for those that cre­ated the prob­lem years ago.

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