Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fears Rise on Gambling in Schools; Panel Favors Changes in Code of Conduct

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fears Rise on Gambling in Schools; Panel Favors Changes in Code of Conduct

Article excerpt

Byline: Cynthia L. Garza, Times-Union staff writer

Duval County school officials are being asked to get tough on everything from the trading of Yu-Gi-Oh character cards to school-grounds playing card games to prevent growing concerns about gambling by students as young as elementary school.

There are differing ideas on how severe the situation is. Still, a committee of 20 parents and school officials felt it was enough of a concern to warrant changes in the student code of conduct, a go-to manual on school system policies and how to handle them.

Gambling generally is resolved now through a conference with parents.

The School Board is being asked to increase the penalty to make it an offense for which a student could be suspended.

There are a handful of other major changes to the conduct code, such as prohibiting electronic devices on school buses and making some of the wording more explicit. The School Board deferred making any decisions during a public hearing Tuesday that drew no comments from parents.

The board said it would further discuss the changes during a workshop this month.

"Sometimes, dealing with parents, we have to spell it out in black and white," said Wolfson High School Principal Fred Chrismann.

In middle and high schools, gambling is now defined as "any participation in games of chance for money or other things of value." Changes to the code at the elementary school level would stipulate: "a student must not play games at school to win money or other things."

S.P. Livingston Elementary School Principal Larry Roziers isn't sure trading-card swaps should be considered gambling.

"There's a difference between trading cards" and gambling for money, he said.

But Parent Teacher Association President Reta Russell-Houghton said the cost of the cards bearing pictures of fictional characters is what gives them their value. …

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