Manchester School District officials informed the Board of School Committee’s Committee on Athletics and Extracurricular Activities that they are moving quickly to evaluate and revamp the city’s Student Athlete Code. Serious questions about the policy and its application were raised after a Girard at Large investigation discovered that the student whose expulsion hearing was canceled when district administrators entered into an agreement with the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights was a member of the Central High School Varsity Basketball Team. Sixteen year old freshman Ayei Akot was allowed to play ball despite punching a girl in the face during an assault and, sources say, not satisfying either the academic or attendance requirements to play sports.
As members of the committee questioned administrators, it became clear the process by which grades are made known to high school athletic coordinators and coaches is unclear and in need of improvement. Committee Chair Sarah Ambrogi likened it to an honor system and said there needed to be a clear process to confirm academic eligibility. She and other members of the committee also said the attendance policy, which only requires a student to be in school the day before, day of and day after a game to be eligible to be on the team and practice was insufficient and said the N H I A A “clean slate policy” used by the district needs to be revisited. The policy essentially enables kids entering high school to play sports regardless of their actual eligibility.
Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry agreed, arguing that the fourth quarter academic and attendance performance of an eighth grader should be used to determine their sports eligibility as they enter their freshman year. Beaudry also argued that students who are socially promoted should not be allowed to play sports until the are academically qualified and that students facing criminal charges should be suspended until they are found innocent. We’re pretty sure he said that last part is already the district’s policy, but that it’s being done at some schools and not at others. He said the district had to ensure that its policies were being consistently enforced at all of the city’s schools, not selectively as seems to be the case.
Superintendent Debra Livingston said it was important for all schools to abide by district policies and suggested a member of the committee join a February third meeting of principals arranged to discuss the Student Athletic Code. Beaudry reiterated his belief that the district’s athletic director needed to have direct access to student records to ensure that only eligible students are allowed to play. We’ve uploaded our notes of the meeting with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The State Department of Education has said neither state law nor department rules provide a penalty to students whose parents choose to opt them out of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment or other standardized tests. That information was published in a revision to the bulletin originally issued by the department which stated the law forbid schools or districts from opting out. The revision also clarifies, in response to questions posed by Cornerstone Policy Research Education Liason Ann Marie Banfield, that students are obligated to take the state’s required test, but that if they don’t, it will merely reflect on the district’s participation rate. In response to questions asked by Girard at Large, D O E Chief of Staff Heather Gage said there is no penalty to schools or districts whose participation rates are low, however that’s determined, and that they would have to consult with legal counsel to see if there would be any sanction possible against districts that created and disseminated opt out forms for parents to use. We’ve uploaded the revised bulleting for your review.
Does the plot thicken in Windam? Girard at Large Politically Buzzed anchor Kimberly Morin published a report on her blog yesterday that raises questions. As listeners of this show know, the Windham School Board gave a no bid contract of nearly six hundred thousand dollars to Cenergistic, a company not registered to do business in the state, which is required by law. Morin originally reported that it did so within forty eight hours of receiving the contract. However, she has since discovered the agenda and proposal were posted on December thirty first. She says Board Vice Chair Dennis Senibaldi is the source of that information, which begs the question, if they had the contract a week in advance, why didn’t they do any homework? We’re thinking we’re going to get some answers this morning as Tom Murray, the school facilities committee member who had the police called on him by the Board Chair Jerome Rekart will join us this morning, along with facilities committee members Rich Amari and Jerry Rufo. We’ve linked to Morin’s article with the latest on this controversy. Note, here’s the interview this news read references.
The Manchester Police Department, along with multiple community leaders will host a discussion about living in a peaceful and harmonious environment within the city. The event will be held at the Police Athletic League Officer Michael Briggs Community Center tomorrow night. Refreshments will be served from five thirty to six so folks can socialize. Living and policing in a diverse community, of course, is the focus of the meeting.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.