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G'view athletic code revised

GRANDVIEW - Grandview School District Athletic Director Ken Murray addressed athletic code revisions, which were approved by the school board Monday night.

He said he wanted to take a look at the code in order to meet the school district's vision in improving the athletic experience for its students.

"Students (involved in athletics and other activities) tend to forget they are examples to others," Murray noted.

He said the former code allowed students to attend only four out of seven class periods on the day of a game or practice to be determined eligible to play. He feels they should attend all seven periods.

"Of course, the kids didn't like that," Murray said of the students with whom he shared the revisions.

He said he also discovered there was an unwritten rule within the schools allowing students to miss the first couple of classes the day following a late night game.

"My expectation is they are student athletes, not athlete students," said Murray.

He said he also revised the absence clause in the athletic code, allowing more parent involvement when a student is not present in school for a given reason.

Excused absences now read "prearranged doctors and dental appointments, prearranged legal appointments, parent excuses for illness and family emergencies."

Murray said other exceptions must be pre-approved by the principal, vice principal or athletic director.

School board director Karen Veloz asked how field trips and other school-related absences fit into the absence clause.

Murray said he does not consider a school-related absence an absence.

"The concern is in holding student athletes accountable, and the goal is for students to be in class Monday through Friday," he stated.

Murray said the WIAA has changed the number of classes which must be passed in order for an athlete to be eligible scholastically.

The WIAA rules state that a student can have one failing grade. However, Murray said he did not feel that was acceptable and "upped the ante."

He said he removed the grade point average requirement from the Grandview code and increased the standard to "no failing grades."

"One reason for this GPA change is the fact that Skyward Bound doesn't round properly and our goal is to graduate students," said Murray.

He said student grades will be checked on a weekly basis, instead of the quarterly basis as done in the past.

"We will have support in place in the form of tutoring. We will help students to become more involved in continued communication regarding their progress and success in class," said Murray.

He said the challenge will be in ensuring teachers keep grades up-to-date. However, he feels it is possible and has seen an improvement during the 2007-08 school year.

Murray said the key to the success of the new code is supporting the students and continued support of the code from the teachers and coaches.

When a student becomes ineligible, Murray said WIAA rules allow a one-week probationary period. During that period, the student can work toward improving their grade and they will be allowed to participate. If the student does not improve their grade during that time, they will be declared ineligible for an additional week and will no longer be able to participate. The student will be allowed three weeks of ineligibility according to the Grandview athletic code.

After three weeks of ineligibility, the student will be declared ineligible for competition for the remainder of the season. The code reads, "Whether or not the student is allowed to continue to practice with the squad will be at the discretion of the coach."

Murray said the final clause is meant to assist coaches who feel an ineligible team member should not be allowed to practice, giving the coach the ability to remove the student from the activity.

"There were some coaches who expressed there was nothing in the code allowing them to remove a student from practice before," explained Murray.

Veloz asked how the code will affect youth who are at practice because of a need to be involved.

Murray said those youngsters are the reason the clause allows a coach to utilize discretion.

Veloz urged him to ensure coaches understand the need to be fair to students "across the board...being even-handed."

Murray assured her that he would speak with the coaches, as a group, to help address the needs of students in conjunction with the needs of the teams.

He continued, stating that the final revisions to the athletic code were in the substance abuse clauses. He said, "The code has been rewritten as it had been (previously) implemented.

"It was difficult to follow. Now, it is easier to understand," he said.

"I believe (these revisions) are like anything else...they set a benchmark and can be assessed next year. At that time, it can be determined what is successful and what needs improvement," said board director Tim Grow. He applauded Murray's efforts in both improving the code and helping make it more easily understood.

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