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School Committee adopts interim head injury policy

Date: 1/3/2012

Jan. 2, 2012

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW — The School Committee voted to adopt an interim policy regarding head injuries in sports at an early-morning meeting on Dec. 27, 2011.

“Pursuant to the new law by Gov. [Deval] Patrick, we must have an interim policy in place by Jan. 1,” School Committee Chair Jennifer Jester said.

Patrick signed new legislation approximately six months ago designed to protect students and inform parents and educators about the proper treatment for head injuries such as concussions. While an interim policy is acceptable now, a permanent policy must be adopted by March 1.

The new legislation requires that all coaches, as well as students participating in sports and their parents, take part in an educational training on head injuries.

Students must also fill out a form to report any prior head injuries and anyone who is suspected of having sustained a head injury in a practice or game must be removed immediately and their parents contacted.

Anyone suffering a head injury would not be allowed to return until after being cleared by a licensed physician.

Since the signing of the new law, the committee and Longmeadow High School Athletic Director Alex Rotsko have been working on a policy that would fall in line with Patrick’s new rules. The draft policy includes information on coaches’ responsibilities, parent and athlete education, use of the ImPACT Concussion Management Program, as well as facts pertaining to recognizing concussion symptoms in the classroom.

As school districts such as Longmeadow have attempted to create policies that follow these and other guidelines, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) has also developed a model policy.

Determining that its own policy still needs work, the School Committee opted to adopt the MASC policy as its interim policy through a unanimous vote, with one abstention in Owen Humphries.

One of the committee’s concerns about the document drafted by Rotsko, which is posted on the Longmeadow Public Schools website, was the need for clarification of some of the terms.

Another was that it appeared Rotsko’s policy strictly relates to high school students, while the policy that must be adopted by March 1 must include students from grades six through 12.

Still, with these concerns, Jester said she felt the committee was in good shape in terms of having its own policy ready prior to the deadline.

“I don’t think this is a matter of re-doing everything that we’ve already put together,” she said.

School Committee member Kathryn Girard also suggested that once finished, the policy be forwarded to the Parks and Recreation Department in hopes that it would also adopt a policy regarding head injuries for youth athletics.


Superintendent Marie Doyle also reported to the School Committee that a committee consisting of teachers and parents has been assembled to conduct the interviews for candidates for the position of principal at Glenbrook Middle School.

“We plan to have six to eight interviews, then bring back two or three final candidates,” Doyle said.

Doyle also welcomed a member of the School Committee to take part in the interviews. Jester asked Girard to take the responsibility of representing the School Committee, citing her previous experience as a tool that could be useful to the selection committee.

“You bring a teacher’s perspective and I think that you could offer valuable insight in that regard,” Jester said.

Girard, who taught at the Grammar School at Somersville in Connecticut, now Somers Academy, agreed.

Preliminary interviews are expected to take place on Jan. 13 and 18.

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