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School board may eliminate 365-day athletic ineligibility for children of ABSS employees who switch schools

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Alamance-Burlington school board members have given preliminary approval to several proposed policy changes, including one that eliminates a 365-day athletic ineligibility period for transfer students who are children of ABSS employees.

Voting 6-1 to approve first reading of the revision that would waive the 365-day athletic ineligibility period for children of ABSS employees were: school board chairman Sandy Ellington-Graves; and school board members Wayne Beam, Ryan Bowden, Allison Gant, Tony Rose, and Donna Westbrooks.

School board vice chairman Patsy Simpson cast the lone vote against the revised policy during the board’s latest work session.

ABSS school board vice chairman Patsy Simpson.

ABSS deputy superintendent Dr. Angela Bost recalled that “six years ago to the day,” on April 12, 2016, school board members adopted the existing policy, which requires transfer students to wait 365 days before becoming eligible to participate in school-sponsored athletics.

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If approved at the school board’s next meeting, the revised policy would eliminate the 365-day waiting period for transfer students who are the children of ABSS employees.

Bost acknowledged that the board had “spent a great deal of time” deliberating the current policy but said that the revised policy complies with state law, as well as the North Carolina High School Athletics Association requirements.

As originally proposed, the revised policy would’ve allowed the children of ABSS employees to play on school sports teams at the beginning of the middle or high school grade span (grade six or nine, respectively). Approximately 42 students would be affected by revising the athletic eligibility criteria for children of ABSS employees, Bost said during the work session.

Rose, however, said that he thinks employees’ children should be able to switch schools at any time and still be eligible to play sports.

“We wanted to support staff having the ability to transfer schools but did not want to support [their having that] ability simply for the purpose of being on a different team,” Rose recalled, referring to the months-long discussions that preceded the adoption of the existing transfer policy. “We would not want employees having the ability to shop teams” as a result of this change, he said, suggesting that the revised policy should include language that explicitly prohibits children of employees from switching schools for athletic purposes.

School board member Wayne Beam said he doesn’t think it’s fair for employees’ children “to be punished and not be able to play [sports but] that’s exactly the way it’s come out.”

For her part, Simpson said she doesn’t think that the policy has accomplished what the board set out to in adopting it: to reduce the number of transfers for the purpose of playing sports for certain schools. “I don’t believe there’s a way to track it or know” whether the policy has been effective at stopping students from transferring from the schools they’re assigned to, based on where they live, in order to play for a different team, the board’s vice chairman said.

“I don’t see where this has really helped us in terms of students transferring for the purpose of playing athletics; it is still happening,” Simpson said during the school board’s latest work session. “I understand it’s a perk [of employment] and agree, but I cannot vote on that. We do have a process where our employees can submit a waiver for the [365-day period of ineligibility]…The whole thing needs to be looked at and evaluated more than we’ve done.”

School board members subsequently voted 6-1 to approve first reading for the proposed revision to the policy that governs athletic eligibility for transfer students.

School board members also voted unanimously, 7-0, during their work session to approve first reading for a revised policy that would allow staff to work from home (i.e., remotely) with a supervisor’s approval during inclement weather.

In other words, teachers who work remotely during inclement weather wouldn’t be counted as absent from work that day, ABSS interim superintendent Dr. James (“Jim”) Merrill said during the work session.

Both of those proposed changes, as well as several other policy revisions, are scheduled to be presented for a final vote at the school board’s next meeting on Monday night.

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