Athletic eligibility rules changed

Students will be monitored week to week

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— After reviewing athletic eligibility for more than a year, the Hayden School Board has changed the requirements for student athletes.

Starting next fall, eligibility will be checked on a weekly basis, and any athlete with a failing grade in any class will not be allowed to play that week.

With eligibility checked on a weekly basis, an ineligible student could qualify to participate in an athletic event by improving the failing grade the next week. Right now, ineligible athletes are out for a quarter.

The new policy also does away with a minimum grade point average for student.

Here are the Hayden School District's new eligibility requirements for high school athletes: 1. A student will be ineligible if he or she is failing one class. 2. A minimum grade point average is not required. 3. Eligibility will be checked each week. Students are eligible for a week at a time. The new policy will take effect for the 2001-2002 school year.

The School Board, by a 4-1 vote, approved the its new policy last Thursday. The board picked from two options that were examined by two committees.

One option was submitted by the High School Improvement Team, and the second came from the District Improvement Team.

The board approved the proposal submitted by the district committee.

"Weekly eligibility keeps a student on their toes," said board member Kurt Frentress.

Prior to the change, high school eligibility standards said that a student could participate in athletics if he or she maintained a 2.0 grade-point average. Eligibility was checked at the end of every quarter.

Under that policy, a student who failed a class at the end of a quarter would be ineligible for the next nine weeks.

The length of the ineligibility period was a major reason why board member Troy Wertenberger voted in favor of the new policy.

"It is too much for kids to sit out weeks at a time," Wertenberger said.

The high school committee was proposing to keep the nine-week grading period and allow a student to have one failing grade. A student would have been ineligible for nine weeks with two failing grades. Also absent from this proposal is a minimum GPA.

High school teachers were in favor of keeping the nine-week grading period. The teachers argued that there are too many variables that can happen each week and keep a student from being eligible for an upcoming event.

John Svoboda, who is a teacher and the school's wrestling coach, was in favor of keeping the nine-week check because, he said, a weekly check could penalize a student who missed school because of an illness or who may have struggled in a class for a few days.

The quarterly grading period did not impact a team on a weekly basis, Svoboda said, and it allowed for the student's grades to average out over the quarter.

Nick Schafer, the high school's principal, was in favor of going to the weekly check. He believes students who may be failing one week would work harder the next week to raise their grades.

Schafer also said the GPA requirement the school had was unfair. It was possible for a student to be failing a class but still have the minimum 2.0 GPA to participate. Schafer believes it was not in the school's best interest to allow students to participate in athletics if they are failing classes.

School Board President Kathy Hockin said the weekly check will help a student who is having a tough time making the grade.

"If a student is struggling, they can get the help they need," she said. "This will be a benefit for them because they won't be so far behind at the end of a quarter."

Jody Camilletti was the only board member to vote against the new policy.

"I am torn between the two," she said. "I don't know if either option will make a difference."

Board member Kelly Hayes believes the change was needed because the policy will be consistent with what is done at the middle school.

"This will be easily managed," Hayes said. "It will take time for the teachers to get use to. But this is used at the middle school. When those students get into the high school, there will be no surprises. This is the way it is."

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