About 20 people attended last week's Eastern York school board meeting to voice concerns over what they referred to as a "highly arbitrary and harsh" co-curricular policy.

The policy calls for a zero tolerance level regarding drugs and alcohol and was enforced against a handful of high school students caught at a party in late August, prior to the start of school.

The policy calls for the immediate suspension of the student from all co-curricular activities, including all sports and any other extracurricular activities, pending further investigation. Fewer than 10 students were involved, according to school officials.

Once the investigation is completed by district administrators, students found in violation of the

policy are suspended from their co-curricular activities for 90 school days.

Many parents at the meeting said they felt the 90 school days part of the policy was harsh and unnecessary.

Trisha Harrison said her son made one bad choice and now he is being punished for five months. Harrison broke down in tears as she pleaded with the school board to re-evaluate the policy and to reinstate her son.

"He's a good kid who just made a bad choice," said Harrison. "I just think this is really unfair."

Parent Tara Artman, whose son is suspended from the soccer team, said she believes the 90-day penalty is detrimental to athletes and could cause irreparable harm to any scholarship chance they may have had.

Parent's plea: Artman pleaded with the board to reconsider its position.

"Our kids were given an eight-page policy that they were told they had to sign or they couldn't play. Very few, if any of them, read it," she said.

"Your one-page coaches' policy states that they are to discourage alcohol use and make all penalties clear to the students. If your coaches aren't following the one-page version, how do you expect your students to follow the eight-page version?" she asked.

Board member Robert Flaherty Jr., co-curricular chairman, reminded the parents that they, too, signed the policy.

"This policy was not only signed by the student but also by the parent," he said.

Added board member Richard Zepp: "Our hands are basically tied. The administration has followed policy and any changes made to that policy will take effect in the future. Those changes will not fix this situation."

The policy committee met Tuesday but did not make any changes, said Superintendent Darla Pianowski.

"There's going to continue to be discussion," she said.

-- Reach Wendy L. Garman at news@yorkdispatch.com.