CCS board talks home-schooled students, middle school athletics

by michelle t. bernard
Staff Writer

o-n-e reporter
At their last board meeting prior to school starting, the Catawba County Schools (CCS) Board of Education met Monday evening to discuss revisions to a policy regarding dual enrollment, discussion, and approval of various other agreements and policies.
CCS Attorney Crystal Davis requested permission from the board to make some revisions to the Board of Education policy regarding dual enrollment of private, parochial and home school students that was adopted by the board on July 25.
The policy authorizes and provides for the limited dual enrollment of private, parochial, and home school students in middle and high schools operated by the school district as a means to offer educational opportunities, experiences, and services to children throughout Catawba county.
For the purpose of the policy, one-half of the school day is determined by instructional periods.
Pursuant to the policy, dually enrolled students are eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics available at the enrolling school subject to applicable policies established by the board. Dually enrolled students who participate in interscholastic athletics must be enrolled for the remainder of the school year in order to maintain their athletic eligibility.
After meeting with principals regarding the policy, Davis requested permission to make some clarifications that the policy also applies to extra curricula activities and that it limits the private, parochial and home school students to enrolling in the district they are domiciled.
“That’s the law anyway but we wanted to make that clear,” said Davis.
In addition, Davis requested the addition of a third clarification stating that the student has to be physically present on the campus for instruction. The instruction can be done on-line but the student had to be present on campus.
This is a requirement of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, according to Davis.
Board Member Tommy Luckadoo questioned why the policy only addresses middle and high school students.
“The attraction for the policy was participation in athletics and there are none for elementary school students,” Davis said.
The board authorized the revisions requested by Davis and agreed to potentially change the policy to include elementary students which will be discussed with principals at a later date.
CCS Interim Superintendent Dan Moore presented several items of new business including the recent NC State Board of Education policy regarding interscholastic athletics and the inclusion of sixth graders.
“This was sort of dropped in our laps the beginning of August,” Moore said. “The State Board met and all of a sudden the sixth graders were allowed to participate.”
No real information as to where it came from was provided, according to Moore. He believes that it was because some of the charter schools didn’t have enough middle school children to field the athletic teams and have been allowing sixth grade students to participate.
“Some of our public school students cried ‘foul,’” Moore said.
Moore said that a committee was put together and a vote taken among all public and charter middle schools. Public middle schools voted overwhelmingly not to allow sixth graders to participate. Charter middle schools nearly unanimously voted for sixth graders to be allowed to participate.
The State Board still voted to allow sixth graders to participate, according to Moore.
“Our problem is a little bit different,” Moore said. “Our middle school structure is seventh and eighth graders – our sixth graders aren’t even on our campus. Our coaches don’t even know those children. Secondarily it would take away from the optimist clubs that already have established programs.”
CCS staff surveyed each middle school principal and no one was in favor of this said Moore. Hickory and Newton have already said they want their kids to participate.
“I don’t have a problem with that, no one here has a problem with that,” he said. “We based on our structure can’t really implement this.”
After much discussion, the board decided to table the decision until they receive the policy from the NC State Board of Education at which point they will readdress it. Should there be any questions from parents prior to that time, the board would inform the parent that that CSS policy does not allow sixth graders to participate.