Montgomery adds rules for school sporting events after football fight

Montgomery adds rules for school sporting events after football fight

Montgomery County Public Schools announced stricter safety protocols for sporting events on Wednesday following a fight that broke out at a football game last week.

Under the new rules, students and spectators will have to stay in the stands during games, and re-entry will not be allowed. The rules also prevent anyone from being admitted after half-time.

Students registered in one of the two competing schools must present a student card or a copy of their school timetable to attend a match. Students who do not attend one of the two playing schools must be accompanied by an accompanying adult.

The new rules come into effect on Friday.

Superintendent of Schools Monifa B. McKnight said Wednesday that the school system’s core values ​​for sporting events are respect and sportsmanship.

“We recognize that when we see unruly and unpleasant behavior occurring in our games, it’s against those values,” McKnight said.

Some schools had already added additional security measures for sporting events, chief operating officer Brian Hull said at a press conference on Wednesday. But a district-wide plan was created after a big fight at a football game between Northwest and Gaithersburg High Schools on Friday, Hull said. This fight led to four minors and a 19-year-old man being charged with assault.

Both soccer teams’ operations were suspended after the fight and will remain so until an investigation into the altercation is complete, school officials said. The inquest is expected to end on Friday. Neither team will play on Friday, officials said.

Gaithersburg athletic director William Gant also filed assault charges against Northwest football coach Travis Hawkins. Gant says Hawkins hit him during the fight.

In Maryland, residents can file criminal charges against each other by submitting a signed statement to a court commissioner. The commissioners then determine if there is probable cause to issue a charging document.

That’s what happened in this case, according to court records. Gant filed a complaint against Hawkins and a court commissioner issued a criminal summons. Court records are unclear as to whether Hawkins received the complaint.

Prosecutors have the ability to dismiss such citizen-generated cases. In Montgomery County, the state’s attorney’s office operates a citizen complaints office that reviews complaints to determine whether the office will pursue the case or dismiss it, said office spokeswoman Lauren DeMarco.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November, according to court records.

McKnight on Wednesday declined to comment on Gant or Hawkins’ employment status or whether they had been disciplined, saying it was a personnel issue and under investigation.

“While the most recent situation brought us together today, we have and will continue to monitor the safety of all of our school events,” McKnight said.

McKnight said the guidelines were developed after meeting with principals, students, staff and police.

Under the plan, specific schools or the district as a whole can impose stricter rules – under second and third tier guidelines – if there are “additional behavioral issues” or incidents.

At the second tier, only students from one of the competing schools and families of student-athletes could attend games. Crowd size may be limited and playing times and days may be subject to change. Teams that get into fights could also be kicked out of post-season competition or suspended for multiple competitions, according to the guidelines.

The third tier – which is the most extreme – indicates that concession stands could be closed and only families of student-athletes and other participants (such as marching band members) could attend. In the most serious circumstances, no spectators would be allowed.

Safety protocols will be in place for the rest of the football season, officials said, but could be extended to other sports seasons – such as basketball – depending on the outcome.

Dan Morse contributed to this report.

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