The 's new policy of holding students to strict academic eligibility requirements for extracurricular activities is even stricter than originally reported, the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch learned on Friday—two days after the policy was debated at length during a B-W School Board meeting.
The policy (No. 122), which goes into effect on Sunday and calls for district students in grades 7 through 12 to achieve a 70 percent or higher in English, mathematics, science or social studies (core subjects), was called "consistent" with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA)'s guidelines on Wednesday. However, further research into those guidelines shows otherwise.
In a story that covers part of Wednesday's school board meeting, the B-W Patch , "The PIAA—that's the requirement to participate in sports. We didn't have a similar requirement to participate in any other activity, so the recommendation to the board was to make it (Policy 122) consistent.
"If the board elects to, we can review it and we can change it for activities, but we can't change it for sports because that's a state regulation."
But the PIAA's requirements for participation in sports—listed here on its website—reads only that students "must be passing at least four full-credit subjects, or the equivalent" to be eligible. In other words, instituting a core-subjects aspect is not a PIAA policy but a Baldwin-Whitehall one.
In an email exchange on Friday, Korchnak said, "The PIAA standards do not match what we want for our students. The process is the same; the standard is more rigorous. We simply applied the PIAA process and the district's standards to ALL activities."
District activities include things such as football, softball, soccer, Math League, Drama Club, et al.
The "process" that Korchnak referred to is indeed reflected in both the PIAA's and the B-W School District's policies in that ineligible students will have one week to raise their grades back to acceptable levels. If their grades are not raised sufficiently within that week, those students will continue to be ineligible for extracurricular participation.
B-W Athletics Director Vince Sortino was caught off-guard by the news that his student-athletes would be held to a new, stricter standard.
"Our student-athletes follow the PIAA standards," Sortino said by email on Friday. "The current academic policy that the board is reviewing is for (other) activities and clubs."
When presented with different information, Sortino replied, "How it was explained to me was that the new club policy was to mirror the PIAA policy. That's about all that I know.
"I am not in the loop on this one, and I have not attended any of the board meetings. I am just giving you my opinion as I understand what the policy was intended to be for clubs and activities."
Sto-Rox's Athletics Director Bill Palermo was critical of that policy. (Full story here.)
"It's unfair, and it's ridiculous," Palermo told the Post-Gazette. "We have one volleyball player with a 3.5 grade average but has a D in a core class right now, so she's ineligible? We have a football player with two As, a B and one D in a core class—and he's ineligible. Something is wrong here."
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