School Board Axes Dodgeball Games from Curriculum

The vote came down 4-1 to suspend a wave of games on Tuesday.

Silver screen dodgeball professionals Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn aren't going to be happy about this one.

Windham School Board members came down hard on the game Tuesday, voting 4-1 to accept a recommendation to remove dodgeball and other human target games from the physical education curriculum.

A study conducted by Golden Brook School Vice Principal Rory O'Connor was coordinated alongside GBS physical education teacher Lauri Putnam, Windham Center School physical education teacher Marge Leahy, Windham Middle School physical education teacher Erin Shirley and Windham High School human performance teacher Brian Fillion.

The group recommended that a total of 10 human target games be banned from the district.

The decision was made based on the position taken by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), which does not support human target games in a K-12 curriculum.

"The professionals, the physical education teachers are able to effectively remove these games from their curriculum and really not miss a beat," said O'Connor. He clarified that many of the games are only taught between one and two times a year.

Superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said the study stemmed from one parent's complaint about the safety and bullying caused by human target games.

Through conversations with his leadership group he said it was determined that similar concerns had been expressed by other parents.

New school board member Dennis Senibaldi disagreed with the recommendation, arguing that sports like football lead to far more injuries than dodgeball.

"This is dodgeball, it is American pie," said Senibaldi. "To suggest concussions and stuff (from dodgeball) you'd have to ask yourself, compared to football – how many concussions? How many knee injuries?"

O'Connor argued that athletes playing football have helmets and pads, while LaBranche added that football players get permission from their parents before they participate.

School board member Michelle Farrell said that the games are "not right" from a bullying aspect.

LaBranche added that students have been "singled out by their contemporaries" for not wanting to participate in the games, and that the singling out has not ended in that particular class.

Farrell also acknowledging that the names of some of the games would have people "mortified."

Some of those game names include "Prison Ball" and even "Slaughter."

While not reading the "slaughter" name aloud, vice chairman Stephanie Wimmer said she was concerned about the message being sent.

"When I saw the names of some of these games, unfortunately guys, we live in a world where 20 babies were slaughtered," said Wimmer.

"We need to take the violence out of our schools and not teach it," she later added.

In a follow-up interview, Senibaldi criticized Wimmer's connecting her argument to the Newtown, Conn. tragedy.

"It was offensive to even put a tragedy like Sandy Hook in the same realm as dodgeball," he said. "They're not even in the same universe. They are billions of miles apart. They are not even comparable."

Senibaldi also argued that when replacements for the games are brought forward, what is going to happen when a new group of kids don't want to play.

Board member Dr. Jerome Rekart deferred to the physical education professionals, saying that the board doesn't want to get in a position of micro-managing their decisions.

Chairman Mike Joanis said that "plenty of other opportunities for physical education" could be found rather than human target games.

O'Connor said that seven of the 10 games actually met all six NASPE National Standards, set in 2004, for a physically educated person.

But he said while the recommendation was hard for the leadership to make, they decided that the NASPE position on human target games overruled the seven games meeting the standards.

For a copy of the complete physical education study, visit here.

WHS Student March 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM
SamIam March 29, 2013 at 12:39 PM
The school board ignored multiple petitions and citizens petition warrant article on the ballot in 2008 for school colors-mascot....what makes you think they will honor this petition...lol We use the word "professionals' alot in our Windham schools, but our education leaders and teachers as a whole have been anything but professionals if you look at the going ons in our schools since 2007ish....Its out of hand....
GrassisGreener March 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Sam, I get the colors one and kind of why the end of my statement was "it would be nice for democracy to work". You can't blame these 5 people as they were not on the Board during the color fiasco. Hope this isn't a repeat of that. A. Dumb to ban it B. PE teachers just stop using it if you don't believe in them C. Zero debate
SamIam March 29, 2013 at 01:12 PM
History repeats itself and Mrs. Whimmer was a key figure behind the scenes of the colors-mascot issue as WHS Integration Committee member who stated the whole thing.
Brett Mueller April 03, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I find it incredibly interesting that after so many places have passed rules like this to avoid tragedies like the Sandy Hook tragedy, that we are experiencing more of such tragedies than ever before. Imagine that!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »