Friday, February 23, 2018
Education

Pasco schools athletic transfer policy won't change

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County student-athletes who change high schools still will need to win permission to play sports after their move.

The Pasco School Board on Tuesday rejected an effort to ease its year-old policy that forces transfers to sit out a year unless a committee grants the students a waiver. Vice chairman Steve Luikart argued forcefully for a change, calling the rule "subjective" and "inconsistent."

"We have a chance to correct something," Luikart said, calling for his colleagues to suspend the guidelines pending revisions to the definitions and procedures. "We need to take advantage of it."

Other than agreeing to "tweaks," though, the full board refused to sideline the policy that Florida High School Athletic Association leaders deemed a state model.

"While I think there may be some deficiencies in the process, I am not sure it's the policy that is deficient," board member Joanne Hurley said. "I am willing to allow the superintendent to change procedures and see if they work."

She and others stressed the need to ensure that students receive fair and equal treatment under the rule. That means more than just the person seeking to play.

"It's not just that one child. We have to consider the school, the whole team," board member Cynthia Armstrong said.

Armstrong noted the desire to avoid having teams face forfeits and fines because of eligibility problems that the review process might have rooted out.

"No matter what we do it's never going to be perfect," she said. "We have to do the best that we can."

At the same time, the board made clear it does not want to hear appeals from parents and students, leaving final participation decisions in the superintendent's hands.

Superintendent Kurt Browning acknowledged the need to make refinements, but he suggested that overall the policy was working as intended.

Luikart, though unable to win the major overhaul he sought, remained unbowed even as he gave up the fight.

"It's nice to sit in this room where everything is hunky-dory and everyone is in line. That's not what I hear out there" in the community, Luikart said. "I will continue to be a voice for them. … That's it. I am done."

Board members asked Browning to report back on any procedural changes he implements. Meanwhile, FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing told the board that this discussion led to an anonymous complaint about the handling of transfers between Pasco and Hernando schools, which his office will investigate.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at [email protected] or (813) 909-4614. Follow @jeffsolochek.

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