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Hall Schools aims to control rowdy sports fans
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Fans at Hall County Schools athletic events soon will be asked to leave raucous attitudes at the door.

A school system subcommittee that evaluated policies on recruitment, sportsmanship, academic eligibility and fan behavior soon will release comprehensive rules.

“They wanted to make sure rules from the Georgia High School Sports Association were being followed at every school, looking at our drug testing program, and academic eligibility is especially important as high schools move from block schedules to the seven-period system, and with new coaches coming on board,” Gordon Higgins, director of community relations and athletics, told the board.

Working with Pioneer RESA professional learning company in Cleveland, Hall County will develop online presentations coaches must view.

“This will put everybody in the system on the same page with the guidelines,” Higgins said. “We’ve been all over the place in terms of how we respond to certain problems, and this won’t stop it but standardize how we respond to it.”

Visiting teams also will be given a survey after games, which will ask how their teams and fans were treated, Higgins said.

“Another thing I would like to see is a mission, motto or creed that’s posted at all the athletic fields so fans will see,” school board vice chairman Nath Morris said. “That’s still one group we need to educate. Here’s our expectations, here’s how we want to act, and people can read the statements before the games.”

If fans ignore the rules, school officials will ask them not to return to athletic events until they view the presentations, Superintendent Will Schofield suggested.

“This is a good first step,” said board member Brian Sloan, also a member of the subcommittee that drafted the new policy. “... we hope to see an online beta version soon.”

In other business, the board discussed creating a classroom at the new Sylvester B. Jones Early Language Development Center for elementary school students with severe behavior problems.

“In several cases this year, young children misbehaved and needed to go to another location because they were so disruptive they caused other students to lose instructional time,” said Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “They would fight, bite and hit classmates and teachers. One even bit a principal.”

Students with aggressive behavior, especially in kindergarten and first grade, need specialized one-on-one time to address needs, she said. The classroom would house up to 10 students for 19 days to get them back on track.

“The home teacher would send in assignments for the 19 days so they can receive the one-on-one attention,” Barron said. “We want to catch these students before they have real issues. It’s a way to have cooling off time.”

The support program would be reserved for those with extreme behaviors — not shooting spitballs, Schofield said.

“We usually haven’t seen these issues until high school, from sexual misconduct to aggressive behavior, and they’re turning the learning environment upside down,” he said. “In the past we’d suspend them and they’d come back and take up where they were.

This is an intervention. These few students are really displaying behaviors we’ve never seen before in little children.”

Although the dream would be zero students in the program by December, Schofield expects three to eight will be placed.

“These aren’t bad kids,” he said. “They’re misdirected, and the schools aren’t set up at the elementary level to deal with it.”