School Board Moves To Ban All Charter School Students From Extra-Curricular Activities, Athletics Next Year

8-25-16 Meeting - 1

Board of Education president Ed Potosnak, center, said charter schools should provide extra-curricular activities for their own students.

All charter school students would be banned from district-sponsored co-curricular and athletic activities starting in the 2017-18 school year under a policy revision introduced by the Board of Education at its Aug. 25 meeting.

If enacted, the policy revision would allow charter school students who have participated in those activities in prior years to do so again during the 2016-17 school year, which starts Sept. 1, but would prohibit all others from doing so.

The ban would not apply to home-schooled students.

Board members who support the revision said they believe charter schools should provide those activities for their own students, much as the district does for its students.

Board members who voted against the revision’s introduction said they did not see the need for it.

Board president Ed Potosnak said the change brings the district’s policy in line with that of many neighboring school districts.

Potosnak said that the board’s policy committee “had questions” about the policy, which then turned into a discussion of whether other districts allowed charter school students to participate in district sports and co-curricular activities. A survey by Ken Margolin, the high school athletic director, showed that most did not.

“We were standing alone in that space,” Potosnak said.

Potosnak said charter school students and parents who want to have after-school activities and sports should ask the respective boards of the charter schools to establish them.

“Charter schools should be having co-curricular activities, including athletics, to meet  the needs of their students,” he said. “I question why a charter school is not making that investment, and why a charter school is leaning on us.”

Not all board members saw it that way.

“If parents choose to send their kids to a charter school, why are we now saying that we can’t support” them, asked board member Julia Presley. “Most charter schools don’t have athletic programs.”

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the participation of charter school students doesn’t usually raise the cost of providing the activity but, in the case of an athletic team, a charter school student may bump a district student.

Most teams, he said, have room for a fixed number of students. A charter school student making such a team would deny a district student from participating, he said.

Saying that the matter required more discussion, board member Richard Seamon moved to table the policy revision. That motion died for lack of a second.

Potosnak noted that the full revision wouldn’t go into effect for a year.

“The charter schools can take that time and get the programs together that they need to get together,” said board vice president Nancy LaCorte.

Seamon noted that a similar policy banning home-schooled students from extra-curricular activities was tabled about four years ago when the public objected to it.

“Four years ago I said this didn’t pass the smell test when it related to home-schooled kids, it doesn’t pass the smell test now,” he said.

LaCorte said that home-schooled students don’t have the facilities that charter school students enjoy. Potosnak said that home-schooled students were exempted from this revision because the policy committee felt they needed opportunities to socialize.

Seamon and Presley cast the lone “no” votes. A second reading on the policy revision is set for the board’s September meeting.


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