SALINAS, Calif. - Curbing crime in our communities takes a unique twist. Central Coast student athletes prepare for competition, school leaders said they're hoping crime rates will go down when they ask their athletes to sign a written pledge to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
NewsChannel 5 found out how the school district plans to enforce strict rules. Students sign two forms with the understanding there's some serious repercussions for using drugs and alcohol.
Hundreds of students will head back to practice this Friday. But not without a firm commitment to their personal health and safety-a lesson parents are grateful to hear.
"For kids they have to know there's consequences to their actions. That's what I teach my daughter," said parent Tabitha Aiken.
This week Salinas Union High School District is holding several meetings, detailing the responsibilities students and family members have as they enter a new school year. Sophomore Tanesha Aiken said she knows what it's like when everyone's not playing by the same rules.
"It was hard on everybody else, because you didn't want to treat them differently but you knew what they were doing. And it was hard having someone ineligible."
A recent study by the district found alcohol use has gone down over the past few years. That's a trend administrators are hoping to continue, giving students a break if they admit to using drugs or alcohol the first time.
"We have that self-referral, for the kid who makes that mistake. But it's really about the kids making that commitment together, that bond. Just like that bond on the offensive line. It's the same idea, we're all going to be in this together," said North Salinas High School athletic director Jean Ashen.
By the law, the district can't test students for drug or alcohol use. So coaches and staff are always on the lookout.
"Our coaches are trained in the warning signs and those warning signs may be reflective of some things going on at home too," Ashen said.
Each violation comes with increased consequences, three and you're off the team.
Students are also required to sign off on special code of conduct rules. Administrators said students can be suspended for writing anything inappropriate on social media. Several other school districts also have a similar policy for athletes.