Board discusses academic eligibility

During a discussion of situational Sunday practices, a board member asked about academic eligibility.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, board member Jeff Labesky recommended that Warren County School District stop allowing students who are failing a class to participate in co-curricular activities, including athletics.

The district’s current policy points to PIAA regulations.

According to PIAA, students must be enrolled in a full-time curriculum, have passed at least four full-credit courses in the prior grading period, and be passing four full-credit courses in order to be academically eligible.

District coordinator of athletics and co-curricular activities Rick Gignac looked into the issue on Tuesday.

He said the number of classes a student may be failing and still be eligible depends on their course load. The district’s high schools have seven periods in a school day. There are courses that are for less than one credit. But, a student with more than four full-credit courses could be failing one or more classes and be eligible.

According to the district’s athletic handbook, “if students are failing two or more classes, they will be placed on suspension.”

“My concern with the handbook… is language regarding co-curricular activities and academic requirements for eligibility,” Labesky said. “My concern is we’re endorsing failure.”

He suggested that any student failing any class should be ineligible.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me that Student A is allowed to flunk algebra and still play football and he knows that he’s able to get away with it,” Labesky said.

That item was not on the agenda and administrators said they would take a look at the language and board members could discuss it at the next committee meetings on Monday, Jan. 28.

According to the policy, district staff prepare an eligibility report each week.

Superintendent Amy Stewart said the proposed change would “drastically change the number of athletes we put on our report.”

Sunday practice

The board considered a policy change that would give Superintendent Amy Stewart the authority to approve a request for a Sunday practice.

That would not mean every coach every season could start having practices every Sunday, she said. “We have no intention of increasing the frequency of Sunday practices.”

PIAA prohibits having any combination of practices, scrimmages, and contests for more than six days in a week.

During the meeting, Stewart brought up the volleyball state championship match in November.

The final match was held on a Saturday.

“We wanted every student that wanted to go to be able to go,” Stewart said. “It was also the first week of winter athletics.”

There is a minimum number of practices required for athletes. Coaches wanted to make sure they met the requirement prior to the start of contests.

So, “they wanted to practice on a Sunday,” Stewart said.

That was not within her power according to the district’s policies.

“We don’t want to consume people’s Sundays, but there are times when it would be the right thing to do,” she said.

Proposed changes that would give her that authority were approved on first reading Monday.

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