Radical Student-Athlete Policy Goes Beyond Sports, Grades

Student-athletes at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., must adhere to a radical new policy this academic year that puts greater emphasis on both academic and civic responsibilities.

Under the Scholar Athletic Policy, developed by principal Bernard Gassaway, all student-athletes must complete at least 30 hours of community service, pass their first-period class (to reduce late arrivals), adhere to a strict dress code and maintain higher academic standards. Gassaway is hoping the new policy will begin to change the culture of athletics at Boys and Girls High School, reports the online news source Bed-Stuy Patch, and student-athletes who fail to adhere to it will not be allowed to play. "We emphasize scholarship, because of the implication of higher expectations," Gassaway said. "We cannot be successful on the court without being successful in the classroom."

Among the academic requirements is a stipulation that seniors pass all classes and maintain a GPA of 70 percent or better. Sophomore and junior students would be allowed only one failing grade per marking period. "It's about building character," Gassaway told radio station WINS, using as an example his mandate that students not be seen walking down the street with their pants riding low on their buttocks. "If they are down, you won't be playing basketball at Boys and Girls High School."

Gassaway told the Patch that the new policy was inspired by the achievements of the school's 2011 valedictorian and salutatorian, who also were both outstanding athletes.

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