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Hillsborough athletics policy will get another look



The Hillsborough County School Board is getting ready to fine-tune a high school athletic participation process that has been a struggle for the elected body this year.

Under a policy adopted in 2012, students who transfer after their freshman year must sit out a year of playing sports. They can appeal this rule to a committee that will give them a pass only under specific criteria: For example, if the family made complete and total move, if the district re-assigned the student under choice, if the student got married or was assigned a guardian due to a death or incarceration in the family.

Appeals of those decisions go to the School Board, which made for some difficult decisions. The problem, some board members said, was that there was very little wriggle room in the wording of the policy, and they were confronted with situations that seemed to merit exceptions.

All of this came about in the aftermath of an athletic eligibility scandal that cost Armwood High School a state football title. But district officials said they had been working on a new policy even before the Armwood incident.

The proposed revisions state that the committee "may consider exceptions assuming all other requirements are met." Under a list of criteria for necessary relocation, it includes the phrase, "Examples include," so as not to limit the criteria to those on the list. Under criteria for "reassignment by the school district," this was added: "Other circumstances which adhere to Florida High School Athletic Association rules and, in the Committee's judgment, justify allowing a student to participate in athletics at the school to which she/he has transferred."

Here are the latest statistics on the new process:

Of 94 hearings scheduled before the committee, 85 were held and the rest cancelled or didn't show up.

The committee approved 66 and denied 19.

Of those 19, 14 appealed to the School Board. And of those 14, eight were approved (including five from private schools), five did not show up or did not go through with the appeal, and one choice transfer was denied.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 12:55pm]


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