Monday, May 21, 2018
Education

Hillsborough schools athletic transfer policy now called too rigid

TAMPA — A soccer player since he was 4, Kevin Atari wanted to play for Plant High School in his senior year.

But after transferring from the private Berkeley Preparatory School, he was told he couldn't play due to a new Hillsborough County school athletic policy.

It took two hearings, one before an appeals committee and one before the School Board, to get him on the team. By that time, he had missed the first month of games.

"It was like torture for him," said his father, Husein Atari, also a longtime soccer player and coach. "It did not make sense at all."

Kevin's case was the first to test a policy the district created with great care and a series of public hearings after last year's football cheating scandal at Armwood High School.

State sports officials accused Armwood families of falsifying utility bills and other documents to enroll players in the school, long a football powerhouse.

The Hawks had to forfeit 15 victories and a Class 6A state title. The school was fined $12,000.

The idea behind the new policy was to take decision-making away from the schools and give it to an unbiased committee. Students are automatically told they can't play for one year after transferring from another high school. The committee is given specific criteria under which it can reverse that decision.

"The policy was far too rigid, and it needs to be more general," School Board Chairwoman April Griffin said at a workshop Thursday, where members agreed to work with staff on revisions.

Added board member Cindy Stuart: "I think there are things that we have not thought of that will come before us."

The four reasons the committee can now allow a transfer student to play are:

• The family has made a "full and complete move" including a transfer of mail and utilities.

• The student's guardian died or went to prison, making the student a ward of the court.

• The student got married.

• The district transferred the student for a specific list of reasons that includes school choice or an individualized education program for special-needs students.

"I think the policy is over-written," said board member Candy Olson, who will work with staff and the school district attorney on the revisions. "It is way more specific than most of our policies."

For example, she said, sometimes the mail continues to arrive at a home after a child leaves because of the parents' divorce. But, if the policy is taken literally, that could stop an athlete from playing ball.

Olson said she wants to see broader language.

Twenty-one cases have been heard since Nov. 27, most resulting in favor of the students.

Griffin asked to see the revisions within a month. Adopting them will require more hearings.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Comments
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own.Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held at Tropicana ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18
Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Before they could get away, we asked the top graduates at Pinellas County’s private schools to write a Twitter-length paragraph about what’s on their mind. We suggested they reflect on the past or the future, or talk about the people who helped them ...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

A Florida teacher was placed on administrative leave after school officials were told that he had students help him drown wild raccoons during class.A 14-second video published by CBS affiliate WKMG showed a group of students filling a tub of water u...
Published: 05/17/18
The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The federal government now spends less than it did about 30 years ago on some of the country’s poorest children, the result of cuts to federal welfare programs, according to a new research paper.In 1990, the government spent about $8,700 on every chi...
Published: 05/17/18
Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

ST. PETERSBURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pictured themselves wearing Crocs to their graduation. But the foam shoes were comfortable, offered better footing than heels, and now the Seminole High seniors had a story to tell.It all started a li...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

I said it two months ago, and it’s only become more obvious since then:The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of students.I...
Published: 05/16/18