Pittsfield school officials ask parents to mind kids at football games

PITTSFIELD — Concerns about youngsters at a recent high school football game has prompted a message to parents: Please bring your kids to the game — and stay to supervise them.

District families on Thursday night received a message from Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless about the lack of parental and adult supervision over elementary and middle school students at a Sept. 22 home game at Wahconah Park between Pittsfield and Holyoke high schools. Due to construction at Taconic High School, the venue is the home field for all games this season.

"The number of unattended elementary and middle school students created significant safety concerns for those of us charged with supervising the event," McCandless wrote in the letter.

While the superintendent lauded the fans in the bleachers and players on the field for their sportsmanship, he told The Eagle on Friday that there were an estimated 250 youths in this category, and that there "was an incident or two" that "required some police intervention." He credited the police personnel in their "kindness" and "patience" in responding to these incidents.

"The Pittsfield Police and the school administration are there to ensure a safe enjoyable event for all at the event," he said. "They are not there to supervise individual children who have been dropped off, walked or bicycled to the game. Neither are they there to attend students waiting for rides until deep into the night after the games."

The football field is oriented in the right center field of the ballpark, leaving a large amount of space around the baseball diamond, parking lot, bathrooms and concession area for people to roam. It's a "vast piece of property" versus a more contained high school gymnasium, the superintendent said.

In the message home, the superintendent said that for the remainder of the 2017 football season, any elementary or middle school students who attend a game must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or another adult. Students who attend without this supervision will be asked to remain at the entrance gate until a parent or guardian can be reached to come and get them or join their child in watching the game.

"High school students tend not to be the challenge," McCandless said regarding the age restrictions.

On Friday night's game between Taconic and Hoosac Valley High School, the school and police departments were planning to work together to provide extra staff to talk to kids and parents and to make calls home if necessary.

"We're not about turning kids away, but it is our hope that families come out to enjoy this as a family event," McCandless said.

The new rule, which is not a written policy, will be revisited and revised as necessary. It does not apply to any other school sporting events.


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