Portland Public Schools has rescinded its policy that limited students to attending sporting events only at the high school they attend, according to a letter sent to students and parents on Thursday.

That policy, announced on Sept. 30, stated the “Portland High students can only attend Portland High games, and Deering High students can only attend Deering High games” in the wake of “verbal and physical altercations at and after sporting events involving spectators.”

The change in policy takes effect immediately, and will continue through fall playoff games and into the winter sports season. High school students can now attend any athletic event in the school district, but the letter warned that future misbehavior may result in disciplinary action.

Aaron Townsend, the district’s assistant superintendent of school management, said in the letter that the policy has been changed “after engaging with students, families and staff over the past two weeks, and using their input to inform next steps.”

His letter also detailed the reasons the restrictive measures were imposed three weeks ago.

“We made the rule change in response to a second consecutive weekend in which large groups of students (40+) were involved in a conflict following a PPS sporting event,” Townsend wrote.

“Multiple students had to receive medical treatment for issues such as a possible concussion or because they had been sprayed with an eye irritant. Each of these incidents occurred with students who do not attend the high school that was hosting the event. That is why we limited attendance to students from the host school.”

As part of the change in policy, all students attending games are expected to be in the stands and to positively support all student athletes, and are expected to leave promptly after the conclusion of athletic events.

Any violation of school rules and expectations may result in disciplinary measures, including being prohibited from attending future athletic events. School staff also will “sweep the venue and parking lots” following games to make sure people are leaving promptly.

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