Swanville Board votes to uphold minimum grades for sports

By EMILIE THIESSEN, Staff Writer
emilie.thiessen@ecm-inc.com

After the Swanville School Board changed the eligibility requirements for students to participate in extracurricular activities last year, School Board Chairperson Jay Loven said not all coaches are playing by the rules.

“I think if we have a district policy, all coaches should have to face the same policy,” Loven said, at the latest school board meeting on Sept. 13.

Before last year, district policy required coaches to check student grades every week to ensure they were receiving a C or better. If students were not performing at that standard, they were not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities until the grade was raised.

After hearing concerns from teachers, coaches and parents, the school board changed the policy last year, which now states that “eligibility grade checks will be performed every three weeks and at the end of the quarter or as set by the administration,” according to the Swanville High School handbook.  “In the event that a student is receiving a grade less than 70 percent, that student will be placed on Eligibility Probation for a period of three weeks.”

Some coaches are not following the new policy, Loven said, by holding students to more rigid standards like checking grades more often and requiring students obtaining a D or an F to discontinue extracurricular involvement until the grade is raised to a C, similar to the old  policy.

Loven said he believes these discrepancies are not fair to the students, as all students should be held to the same standards regardless of what sport they are in or who their coach is.

Clerk Chris Kircher interprets the policy differently. He said he believes many of the district policies are set as the minimum requirements for teachers and coaches to follow. He said he supports coaches expecting a lot from their students, and doesn’t believe the eligibility requirements some coaches are using are more difficult for a student to work with than the district standard.

He added however, that students deserve to be held to uniform standards, regardless of the sport, and be made aware of what the coach expects from them.

“I am torn,” Kircher said.

In a 4 to 2 vote, the board voted to uphold the district policy and require coaches to follow the policy strictly, not as a minimum.

Loven, along with Vice Chairperson Kathy Beckman, Director Rick Gutormson  and Director Jeff Opelia, voted to uphold the district policy. Kircher, along with Treasurer Todd Jackson, voted to allow coaches to use the district policy as a minimum requirement.

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