Wake County high schools and middle schools that don’t offer interscholastic athletics could stop allowing students to play at other schools that do have sports programs.
For the last four years, Wake has allowed students at special schools such as the early colleges, career and technical education high schools and single-gender leadership academies that don’t have interscholastic sports to compete for spots at other schools. But on Tuesday, a Wake County school board committee backed a policy change to begin phasing out this sports option for those special schools that students apply to attend.
With Wake expanding the number of special schools without athletics programs, school administrators asked the board to consider returning to when students at those schools didn’t have interscholastic athletic eligibility. If approved by the full board, it wouldn’t affect current students at the schools.
“When you choose the special schools, you’re making a choice for special programming that doesn’t guarantee you access to all other programming,” said school board member Jim Martin, chairman of the policy committee. “We can’t give everybody the choice for something additional and still get all the benefits that you otherwise would have had at your base school.”
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Historically, students at some Wake schools such as Centennial Campus and Moore Square middle schools and the early colleges didn’t have their own athletics programs. Students instead played intramural sports.
But when the two single-sex schools and Hilburn Drive Academy opened in 2012 without interscholastic sports, parents asked that their children be allowed to play at other schools. Wake granted the request and extended it to other schools that don’t have sports programs.
Each school that doesn’t have an athletics program is designated a specific school that students can try out for. For instance, Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said 21 students at the leadership academies play on teams at Broughton High School and 27 Hilburn students play at Leesville Road Middle School.
School board Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner said some parents at Broughton and Daniels Middle School have raised concerns about having to take so many athletes from the other schools.
“I think it’s important that we tried this,” Kushner said. “But I also think it’s important to see the inequities that we have created.”
Moore said they want to grandfather current students at the special schools.
Martin noted how the early college application period for next year has already begun. At his recommendation, athletic eligibility changes for new students enrolling at those schools wouldn’t start until the 2018-19 school year.
But the change is recommended to go into effect in the 2017-18 school year at the new North Wake College and Career Academy opening in Wake Forest.