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    Charles school board easies sports eligibility policy


    24 days ago

    The Charles school board approved a revised extracurricular eligibility policy this week that places more emphasis on passing courses than individual quarterly grades.

    Michael K. Lukas, who has been a board member since 2010, proposed the changed eligibility requirements in hopes of having something that is executable by the upcoming school year.

    The policy was approved June 17 at St. Charles High School during one of the board’s work sessions.

    The previous requirements for high school students, 10th grade and above, to be eligible in the fall for their extracurricular activity required that they pass the fourth quarter of the previous school year. If a student passed the fourth quarter, but failed the overall class, they would still be eligible to play in the fall.

    However, this means that if a student failed the fourth quarter, but passed the class, then they would not be eligible to participate in the upcoming fall sports season.

    Lukas’ proposal focuses more on the final grade a student receives. With the new policy, if a student fails the fourth quarter, but their final grade is passing, then they are eligible to participate in the fall.

    “It’s about a student completing a class successfully,” the board member said during previous discussions at a June 11 school board meeting.

    The proposal does not change the current policy that if a student fails a class in the first, second or third quarter, then they are ineligible to play sports that following quarter.

    The revised policy also accounts for summer school. If a student’s final grade is failing, but they retake and pass the class or classes that caused their ineligibility, then they will be able to participate in the fall sports season.

    Many of the board members had concerns related to equity with this policy when it was discussed during the June 11 board meeting.

    Nicole M. Kreamer, vice chairperson of the board, said the proposed policy, allowing students to get one F in the fourth quarter, is not fair to those students who receive failing grades in the first, second or third quarters and then lose eligibility for the subsequent quarter. There is then an advantage for students participating in fall extracurriculars.

    Kreamer said continuing to uphold such a strict policy might not be in the school system’s best interest.

    “We’re still the strictest policy in the entire state,” Kreamer said. “Our kids are competing with other counties that are not this strict and so they’re being given more opportunities than our kids.”

    Samarjeet “Sam” Virk, the newly elected student member of the board, was shadowing at the June 11 meeting and said stricter eligibility policies are becoming unrealistic for the sports-focused students who want to succeed in today’s world.

    “It’s very important that the people who are passionate in [sports] can devote themselves fully because that’s what the world is expecting now,” said Virk, who was officially sworn in at the June 17 work session.

    The board also recognized that the revised policy places more emphasis on the final grade, meaning there is more emphasis on a student’s GPA and passing, leaving less room for error.

    “We are sending a sentiment to the students that you are no better than your GPA and that is not always true,” board member Samichie K. Thomas said on June 11. “Sometimes that number is not always indicative of their success in the world.”

    Currently for the 2024 program, summer school courses in Charles County are free; however, this might not always be the case, said Kreamer. Once summer courses require payment, then eligibility will fall on whether a family or student can afford to retake a failed class.

    “It’s more exclusionary than it is inclusionary,” Kreamer said.

    Board members also pointed out that not every class is offered as a summer course, so some students will not be able to regain eligibility during the summer.

    Although the board members wanted to see a change to this eligibility policy, most of them agreed on June 11 and on June 17 that the current proposal was unfinished and needed more work.

    Regardless, Lukas’ proposal passed 6-2 and will be implemented during the 2024-2025 school year.

    The revisions may just be the beginning for changing Charles public schools’ eligibility requirements, but Lukas said a smaller revision to an already existing policy is the first step in helping the students.

    “It’s not perfect, and we can always dwell on things that aren’t perfect or we can move forward with things that help students and continue to have the discussion,” Lukas said at last week’s meeting.

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