Menomonee Falls School District athletes will have to meet a grade-point average requirement for the first time starting this fall, but they won’t be banned from athletics unless they refuse to participate in an individualized intervention program.
The School Board voted unanimously Monday to pass the new policy, which was hashed out in a working session before the meeting. Superintendent Patricia Greco said the district previously had no GPA requirement for participation in sports.
Now, under the change, students must maintain at least a 1.7 cumulative GPA. If they don’t, they will have to participate in a remediation program that will be tailored to their needs. For example, students might be told to work on their study habits or engage in tutorials to improve their academics, Greco said. As long as they are trying, they won’t be removed from sports unless they refuse to participate in the remediation program, she said.
The new rule will go into place in the fall, with the GPA from the end of the last semester applying. The board members considered studying the GPA quarterly, but opted instead for a cumulative GPA requirement. The board approved the athletic code handbook with the GPA amendment at its Monday meeting and also voted to review the handbook every year.
In addition, the board announced Monday that it will consider at next year’s athletic code handbook review whether to allow students with an unfulfilled penalty in their main sport to switch to another sport during the penalty phase. But Greco said that provision — which sparked debate at the work session — would not be considered until 2013.
As for the GPA policy, the district had no GPA policy for athletics participation previously but adhered to WIAA rules, which prohibit students from participating in athletics if they have two Fs on their record in a semester.
According to Greco, the Menomonee Falls’ conference is pretty evenly divided between districts that have a GPA requirement and those that just abide by the WIAA rule as Menomonee Falls used to do. The WIAA rule would still apply in the Falls; the new GPA requirement is in addition to it. the board had discussed making the GPA policy 1.5 but decided to round it up to a C- average of 1.7.
“Some do, some don’t,” Greco said of whether other districts have a similar policy. Districts with GPA requirements range from Sussex-Hamilton, with a 1.5 to Germantown with a 2.0, officials said. Arrowhead and Elmbrook use the WIAA rule only, they said.
The remediation plans would be developed by a team including teachers, counselors, and officials with pupil services, Greco said. Currently, students throughout the district are already placed in remediation plans. The difference, she said, was that, until now, the involvement in them was not mandatory for athletic participation.
The change came about as a result of a regular review of the athletic code handbook, which was last revised two years ago, she said.
“I think it’s reasonable,” said Michele Divelbiss, a parent who attended the working session told the board. “Your role is to provide a bottom level safety net."
If parents want to demand that their child have a higher GPA in order to participate in athletics, that’s up to them, she said.
Students who don’t meet the WIAA rule have three weeks to up their grades while they are suspended from competition. But that won’t be the case with the new 1.7 district GPA policy. Students won’t lose eligibility or be suspended if they fall under it; instead, they will required to undergo the remediation that Greco described.
“This wouldn’t be a situation where students who fall below 1.7 will lose eligibility,” stressed board member Lori Blodorn. “What will happen is it will trigger intervention strategies. As long as the students actively participate in interventions, they wouldn’t lose eligibility. It depends on individual students and what their needs are.”
In fact, students won't automatically lose eligibility even if the remediation doesn't result in an increased GPA, officials said.