Skateboarders grind for change

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

1front.jpgBy Adam Goldstein and Nathan Yeo

Skateboarders at South are fighting to change school rules that forbid skating in parking lots and permit teachers to confiscate skateboards.

A group of skaters is lobbying South Senate to pass a bill changing school rules forbidding skating. Skaters would like to be able to skate to and from school, carry their boards in the halls, and skate in designated areas such as parking lots during their lunch and free blocks.

According to the skaters, school administrators have only recently started to enforce rules forbidding skating on school property.

“We’ve skated at Newton South many times and we’ve never been told to leave, sophomore Justin Kieran, leader of the group of skateboarders, said.

Now, according to Kieran, campus aides and teachers tell them not to skate in the parking lots and confiscate their boards. The skaters often have to retrieve their boards at the end of the school day in a house office.

“I think it’s [absurd] that they are banning a sport, sophomore Wes Yee said. “It’s a great sport, and we should all be able to do it in school.

Principal Brian Salzer disputed the assertion that enforcement of skating rules is anything new. He said that skating was never much of a problem until he started receiving complaints about skaters in a parking lot. Campus aides then told the skateboarders to stop, enforcing the longstanding rule that forbids the use recreational equipment on school property.

According to Kieran, campus aides have suggested to skaters that they should skate in the streets instead of in parking lots.

“That seems much more unsafe, he said. “We’re asking for a place where it’s quiet and we can move around freely.

Kieran believes that a parking lot would likely be safer than the street, and that his group of skaters would wear helmets if they were asked to.

Salzer believes skating in parking lots is unsafe and that skaters should try sidewalks instead.

“Skating in an active parking lot is dangerous, he said. “This is a pretty reasonable rule.

According to South Senate Vice-President Luckmini Liyanage, a bill to permit skating in designated areas on school property during certain times of the day is currently in the “rough stages.

Senate President Bill Humphrey is doubtful about the bill’s prospects.

“I don’t think there’s enough support in the Senate to pass this, he said.

If the Senate passes the bill, it will have to be approved by the administration, something that Humphrey also doubts.

Kieran does not plan to drop the issue.

“It’s important enough to us that we will be willing to continue it, he said “This will definitely not rest even if the administration decides not to comply.

Principal Brian Salzer said that while it was fine to carry the boards to their lockers before schools, skaters do not need to carry them during the day.

“Why do they even need them in the halls between classes? he said.

Kieran notes that it is hard to get to his locker, get his skateboards, and make it to the bus before it leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The skaters also say they cannot fit longboards, a larger type of skateboard, in their lockers and therefore must carry them in the halls. Salzer suggested setting up a place in school, such as a house office, where skaters could leave their longboards during the day.

Sarah Wunsch the staff attorney for the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union said that the skateboarders have “no constitutional right to carry their skateboards in school. On the other hand, “some accommodations must made to skateboarders, Wunsch said. She suggested setting up skateboard racks similar to bike racks.

Several skaters suggested building a skate park on campus.

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