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Copyright 2018 The Daily Record Oct 13, 2018
Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio
WOOSTER — A discussion of the grade point average needed to participate in athletics in Wooster City Schools will be on the agenda at the Board of Education's work session at 7 p.m. Monday in the district meeting room at Wooster High School.
Board member Sue Herman brought the topic to the attention of the board at September's regular meeting during consideration of the revised student handbook.
"The one thing that really troubles me," Herman said at that meeting, is what she considers the low GPA standard, a 1.0, in determining student eligibility for participation in sports.
"Our student athletes need to be scholar athletes," Herman, a retired teacher, told the board.
"I absolutely believe in lessons they learn in discipline and teamwork," she said, but in considering the mission of the district to care for the "whole child," she thinks the scholarship issue should be addressed.
The purpose of school is to "build educated citizens," she said.
While education is lifelong, athletic endeavors, at least for some students, will not extend beyond high school or college, she said.
But the message being sent by the minimal GPA requirements is that "it's OK to barely pass," Herman said.
"I know it's not the handbook's fault," she said, but "it's a conversation I think needs to be discussed."
"We cannot shortchange (students) in that area," she said. "We just can't."
In answer to a question from board member Bill Gantz, Herman said she thought the requirement "was higher when I first started teaching — 2.0."
During the discussion at September's board meeting, Superintendent Michael Tefs said, "You can't go lower than the state standard," referring to Ohio High School Athletic Association regulations.
"You can go higher," Herman pointed out.
While affirming points made by Herman, Tefs said, "I just worry a little bit for certain students," for whom athletics "brings them to school."
"We're trying to grow assets in the neediest students," Tefs said, adding, "School is already a tough place for them."
For those who could benefit, study tables could be established, Herman suggested, and for those "showing effort in the classroom ... some kind of deal could be worked out."
Tefs said feedback would be needed from the athletic community, the Booster Club, guidance counselors and others in considering a change in policy; and subsequently, the board agreed to put discussion of it on the agenda of the October work session.
A sampling of other districts found similar eligibility requirements in place, but in a couple of cases, with modifications.
"We follow OHSAA guidelines for eligibility," said Green Superintendent Dean Frank. "In my short time (as Green superintendent) it hasn't been a discussion item, so it is hard to comment on the history of this decision."
"Wayendale, Rittman, and Orrville all have 1.0 GPA requirement to play sports," said their superintendent, Jon Ritchie. "At Orrville, if you have between a 1.0 and 1.5 GPA, you must attend study tables to be eligible as well."
"Our student athletes must be passing five credits and have at least a 1.0 GPA," said Triway Superintendent Nate Schindewolf. "We adhere to OHSAA's credit requirements."
"We revised our policy and increased our GPA requirement to a 1.5 GPA in 2011," said Northwestern Superintendent Jeffrey Layton.
"At the time, we received a lot of push-back," Layton said, "yet, as expected, the students rose to the level of expectation, with the rare exception of a student every few years."
The protocol set by the Northwestern board for students in grades 7-12 includes "conditional eligibility. Athletes on conditional eligibility will have their grades checked at the interim. If their GPA is 1.5 or higher, they will be granted full eligibility for the remainder of the grading period.
"Student athletes that do not meet the OHSAA eligibility and (Northwestern High School) GPA requirements may, with the head coach and (athletic director's) approval, work out with the team, but may not participate in scrimmages or games," according to a list of stipulations and requirements established by Northwestern board policy.
Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-264-1125, Ext. 2230. She is @lindahallTDR on Twitter.
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