The state Board of Education voted Thursday to move ahead with some changes to the athletic eligibility rules. The board changed the rule requiring an athlete who fails a class to sit out 20 school days before becoming eligible again — to require they sit out 30 calendar days. The board also got rid of the rule that requires a student to sit out their time in a sport where they have been a "bonafide competitor."
Boardmember Mary Jean Montgomery of Spencer was on the subcommittee that recommended the changes. Montgomery says the "bonafide competitor" rule was very subjective and the board believed they could trust the judgment of the school districts on that. She says the 20 school days requirement became an "administrative nightmare," as schools had different schedules with snow days and in-service days, while everyone has the same calendar days.
Montgomery says these were minor changes to make administration of the rule easier. Montgomery says the real point of it all is student achievement and ensuring that all kids are successful learners. Montgomery says there were some other concerns brought up about the rule, such as kids might take courses that weren’t as tough so they could stay in sports. She says the board will do more research on those issues.
Montgomery says they don’t have any reliable data on the issues, as she says they believe kids are taking more rigorous courses, not less. Some says the rules hurt freshmen, but Montgomery says they need more data on that too and whether they need help in the transition. She says they want to look at drop out rates and the number of kids engaged in extracurricular activities. The state athletic directors association is gathering some more data on the issue that the board will consider.
Montgomery says these rules are simply guidelines. Montgomery says these are minimum standards, "these aren’t high expectations" as she says they hope school districts will make tougher guidelines. There will be a hearing on the proposed rule changes in February before they will move forward.