The3rd meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, September 11, 2006, at 10:15 AM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, Chair, called the meeting to order.
Members:Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, Co-Chair; Brett Guthrie, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Hubert Collins, Derrick Graham, Rick G Nelson, Darryl T Owens, Terry Shelton, Arnold Simpson, and Ron Weston.
Legislative Guests: Senator Tim Shaughnessy; Representative Rocky Adkins.
Guests: Anna Craft, Letcher Co. Board of Education, Whitesburg; Stephen D. Butcher, Wolfe County Board of Education; Harold E. Comes, Knott County Board of Education, Hindman; Brigid DeVries, Commissioner, Larry Boucher, Assistant Commissioner, Julian Tackett, Assistant Commissioner, Roland Williams, Assistant, Butch Cope, Director, Promotions and Media Relations, Kentucky High School Athletics Association; Mark Cleveland, Owen County Schools; Leisa Speer, KY NPSC Archdiocese of Louisville; Diane Fowler, Louisville; Karen Walker, Sayre School parent, Lexington; Walker Buchler, Sayre Student, Lexington; Joyce Walker, Sayre School, grandparent, Lexington; Tim G. Moore, Mason County Schools, Maysville, KY; Wayne Young, KASA; and Clyde Caudill, KASA, JCPS; and Reverend Pat Delahanty, Catholic Conference.
LRC Staff: Janet Stevens, Audrey Carr, and Jo Ann Paulin.
Chairman Edmonds welcomed everyone to the meeting and told the presenters he appreciated them making the extra effort to come today. Chairman Edmonds also recognized Kevin Noland who will become the acting Commissioner of Education as of the first of November. Chairman Edmonds said that today is a special day in America because five years ago nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in New York City. Many were firefighters, policeman, emergency rescue workers, different types of construction people, that came to do whatever they could to help. He said as a chairperson for this subcommittee he was going to ask everyone to please stand as Senator McGaha, who is the co-chairman of this subcommittee, leads us in prayer in honor and tribute to the people who died in the 9/11 tragedy. Senator McGaha lead those assembled in a prayer.
Chairman Edmonds asked the secretary to call the roll.
Chairman Edmonds said that today the committee was going to look at the role and responsibilities of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association and the many things they do. He said there are other guests who want to speak, and if time permits, the guests will get the opportunity to speak. There is a time schedule and the full Education Committee meets at 12:30 today. Chairman Edmonds said that KRS 156.070 directs the KY Board of Education to manage and control Kentucky schools and all programs that occur in those schools including inter-scholastic athletics. The statute allows the board to select an organization or agency to manage athletics. The board has selected the KY High School Athletics Association as that agency. Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) Commissioner Brigid DeVries is here today along with several members of her staff to discuss their role and responsibility as managing the high school athletics program for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Commissioner DeVries introduced her staff. Butch Cope is the Director of Promotions and Media Relations; Julian Tackett, Assistant Commissioner; Larry Boucher, Assistant Commissioner; Roland Williams, Assistant Commissioner; and Ken Tippett, KHSAA Fund Raising Consultant.
Ms. DeVries said they had put together a brief overview of some of the items that they were requested to address. The Power Point presentation is a part of this record. She said that KHSAA is the designated agency for athletics in the state of Kentucky. This designation and subsequent regulations have evolved since the late 1970's when it was legislated that the ultimate jurisdiction for all scholastic related programs was under the authority of the Kentucky Board of Education.
KHSAA was founded in 1917. Their mission is to provide participation opportunities for student-athletes. They emphasize safety, good sportsmanship and try to enhance the educational experience of every student in the state of Kentucky. They are self governed and have an 18 member Board of Control. Every area high school operates and controls their institution individually.
Bylaw 1 states that the principal of the high school is the one in charge. They have the ultimate responsibility of control. If there is a problem, the principal is the person to contact first. They do have additional help. They can have a designated representative when there is an eligibility issue and the designated representative can assist with transfer forms or membership applications. The principal is responsible for completing those but can designate individuals to help. Many times the designee is an assistant principal or an athletic director.
KHSAA has a constitution and bylaws that are determined by the members of the Association. Currently, there are 280 member schools. They hold an annual meeting and delegate assembly. The next meeting will be October 19, 2006. Any of the membership may suggest a change to the constitution or the bylaws, which will be voted on by the membership. The principal can appoint a delegate to make a proposal. The Board of Control also has the authority to make a proposal, but KHSAA staff do not.
KHSAA's relationship with the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) is one of the items on the agenda. KBE has the authority to approve or audit the KHSAA bylaw changes or a referendum. KHSAA is regularly on the KBE meeting agenda, and KHSAA staff have regular communication with KDE staff.
The Board of Control selection process operates its governance under the 1971 Federal Court Decree. Currently, they have 18 members. Eight members are elected by member schools by "sections." Each section represents two basketball regions. Two African-Americans, two females, and two non-public representatives are elected by their respective member schools. Four members are appointed by KBE.
The board is studying school membership criteria and trying to put a little more teeth into the criteria. Today the criteria is that the school must have the twelfth grade as the terminating grade, they must be issued an identification number by the KDE, and must be accredited by KDE. There are other members of the association; A-1 (District operated general or multi-program school; D-1 (State Department of Education operated school); F-1 (Federal Dependent School); J-1 (Roman Catholic School); M-1 (Other religious schools); or R-1 (Private, non church schools.) There are currently about 280 member schools.
Members agree to follow the constitution and bylaws. On their membership application they sign that they agree to be in compliance with Title IX, in compliance with any medical and safety recommendations from the Kentucky Medical Association after Board of Control approval, and in compliance with other directives implemented from authoritative regulatory agencies.
Sometimes there are new members and when they come on board there is a two-year probationary period. Many times it is a smaller school and they want to make sure they are viable and can compete in those opportunities without closing down. If a consolidation of two or three schools takes place, the new school is immediately eligible for membership.
The history of the association is to bring everyone on board and not to keep anyone out. The Board is taking a look at existing criteria and trying to fine tune those. They are a dues organization and if someone refused to pay their dues they may be asked to leave the association. They do have a "layaway plan" and will work with the schools to make sure they can join. One reason for denial would be if the school exclusively has students in grades K- 5. KHSAA is a high school organization. If there were a problem with financial aid, KHSAA would take a look to see if there were any violations. If there were a penalty or assessed fines, membership might be denied. All members must be in compliance with Title IX.
Current membership has 231 A-1 district operated general or multi-program schools. There are two D-1 state Department of Education operated schools. Currently there are two F-1 Federal Dependent schools. Twenty-two Roman Catholic Schools are in the J-1 category and 14 other religious schools are in the M-1 category. There are nine private, non-church schools in the R-1 category. This makes a total of 280 member schools for 2006 - 2007 membership.
Chairman Edmonds asked that the minutes of the August 7, 2006, meeting be approved. Minutes were approved without objection upon the motion of Senator Guthrie and seconded by Representative Graham.
Larry Boucher said that Title IX is a federal regulation requiring gender equity in a school's athletic programs. KHSAA became intricately involved in the program with the 1999 - 2000 school year. It has become one of the major responsibilities of the KHSAA. On-site visits were made to all high school campuses in the first five years of the program. KHSAA began a "Re-Visit Program" (second go-round of school visits) in 2004-05. Over the course of eight years, they have spent over $500,000 implementing and maintaining the program. Several accomplishments have been made with the assistance of educational leaders across the state: 1) equity advancements and improvements have been made in athletic facilities; 2) coaching salaries and stipends are more comparable; 3) use of practice and playing facilities and participation opportunities have increased; 4) they now have quality and availability of equipment; and 5) now KHSAA is rumored to be the front runner of all the state high school associations in the nation with regards to achieving gender equity among the schools.
Chairman Edmonds asked Ms. DeVries to describe the appeals process. Ms. DeVries said that basically if a student is denied eligibility per one of the bylaws, one of the most common being Bylaw 4, the transfer rule, they file chapter 13B which is the due process procedure. If eligibility is denied, the parents or school personnel can appeal the decision or the ruling by the commissioner and state the reasons for the appeal in writing, and this will be taken to an independent hearing officer. There are two hearing officers who are former judges. The person filing the appeal can then come with their attorney. A lot of times, school personnel will represent the student. They have their hearing and then the hearing officer has an opportunity to submit the findings. The officers may make a ruling to accept the eligibility or to deny it. That ruling goes on to the Board of Control at its next meeting. The board will consider the recommendation of the hearing officer and then the Board of Control makes the final order.
Representative Nelson asked how much are the dues and if they were determined according to the size of the school. Ms. DeVries said that it is figured according to size with the minimum being $800. It then goes to $1,000, $1,200, and $1,400. There has been no raise since 1994. Representative Nelson said that he has announced the Bell County games on the radio for the past 32 years. A couple years ago Bell County High School played Fort Thomas Highlands in the play-offs and were defeated. There was a young man on the Fort Thomas team that was later ruled ineligible. This case was in court for a long time. Representative Nelson said he felt someone should have had that case resolved before the play-offs. That young man single-handedly defeated Bell County and ruined their season. Representative Nelson asked what could have been done to get this case resolved quicker. Could KHSAA have gotten this resolved before the play-offs started? Ms. DeVries said that because of the timing of the injunction, they could not. If someone decides to litigate something, then they have to follow the litigation time line. Representative Nelson asked if they could have asked for an expedited hearing. Ms. DeVries said they did, but they were at the mercy of the courts. Representative Nelson asked if this situation had fallen through the cracks. He said he just wondered why KHSAA didn't ask for an expedited hearing when they knew this was going to be a problem. Ms. DeVries said that they always try to move things along but they operate at the pleasure of the courts. Representative Nelson asked if it would be easier for KHSAA if everyone who transfers sits out one year with no exceptions. Ms. DeVries said that it would be easier but that it would not stand the test in the courts. Some states have attempted that. Basically the regulation says that, but there are conditions for exceptions.
Representative Graham said his school had a situation where a teacher had been divorced and one of her children had decided to go and live with the father in western Kentucky. The daughter stayed there from the end of her freshman year to the beginning of her junior year. She chose to come back and live with her mom, primarily because she and her dad were not getting along. In this situation, she wanted to play softball. They appealed for her to be able to play, based on the fact that she moved from one parent to another parent. Her mother was the original parent that the court had allowed to have guardianship. In this case they ruled that she was ineligible to play. Representative Graham said he knew of other situations where a child had gone to live with a guardian and they have been given eligibility to play in the district. It was not a parent they were going to live with, but a guardian. Representative Graham said that he usually supports the actions of the Board of Control, because he believes that the legislature has so many other issues to deal that the legislature does not need to be involved or engaged in the politics of the Board of Control. He said it comes down to common sense. If a child wants to go and live with one parent over another, that child should not be ruled ineligible to play. She was not eligible to play her senior year. He asked if anyone could address as to why her appeal was denied. Ms. DeVries said that currently the exceptions that are in Bylaw 9 allow for a waiver to be granted if there is a custodial change. That is the standard that is applied across the board. She said she couldn't speak to a particular case. Often times in split families one parent will be given the residential custodianship. Unfortunately, guardianship is fairly easy to get. Over the history of the association, guardianship has been manipulated by parents to gain eligibility. Representative Graham said that he was sure in this case that they were not being manipulative. Ms. DeVries said that she was just giving a little background as to why there has been such a tight standard. That is why there has to be a custodial change, which does happen quite often. Representative Graham asked if KHSAA was aware that Franklin County has one of highest divorce rates in the state of Kentucky. He said that he hoped they would look at this in terms of parental consent. The child's well-being should be taken into consideration rather than thinking that there is a calculated effort to move the child from one district where maybe their athletic activities are not as competitive as in another area.
Representative Graham said that back during the session one of the legislators proposed a bill that would have allowed those who are 19 and still in high school on July 1 instead of August 1, to be eligible to participate in sports. How many students typically fall into that category of being 19 or close to 19 and still have a year of high school available but are unable to participate in athletic activities? Ms. DeVries that there are very few but there are some. She said that once a date is established, KHSAA is very comfortable with that date. Representative Graham asked why that date was selected. Ms. DeVries said that historically when you talk about the start date, August 1 was closer to the start date for practice. It was probably arbitrary to some degree but the membership didn't feel like there was a need for a change. Whatever date is selected, there is likely to be someone negatively affected. Representative Graham said that he would rather for the board to readdress the issue rather than the legislature to have to legislate it. Is there a possibility that the board would be able to look at that date? Ms. DeVries said that it is currently legislated so they don't have that option. Julian Tackett said that several years ago that it was decided this would be legislated rather than done through KHSAA. Representative Graham asked if they thought they should be involved with this issue. Ms. DeVries said that she would probably agree.
Mr. Roland Williams said that the KHSAA coaching education program has been in existence for about 12 years now. It was started in 1994 - 1995 and at that time all coaches did not have to take the course. Those required to take the program were anyone who came in after that day or who were new to coaching,. The course is developed by Human Kinetics (HKUSA) and they are located in Champaign, IL. It is administered by the KHSAA in conjunction with the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association (KHSADA). The first group of coaches were trained in 1993 - 1994 and it became a pre-hire requirement in 1995 - 1996. By definition, there are two levels of coaches in Bylaw 27. There is Level 1 Coach, who is a school faculty member, and there is a Level 2 coach who is a non-certified person who has 64 college credits. Once they have passed the test, their certification is lifetime and is much like a college degree. The certification of individuals that are hired by schools can be checked on the KHSAA Web site and also the American Sports Education program Web site. Since its inception, some 14,000 Kentucky coaches have taken the course and approximately 12,000 have successfully completed it. Seven hundred courses have been taught and seventy individuals have been trained as Kentucky instructors. At the current time there are 23 people who actively serve as Kentucky instructors in this state.
Representative Owens asked if there were any continuing education requirement once they were certified. Mr. Williams said that in Bylaw 27 there is a continuing education component that they must take. They have to take a medical symposium every other year, and they must attend a rules clinic annually. There are other components that are contained in Bylaw 27.
Mr. Butch Cope said that KHSAA has several other services that they provide to the student athlete throughout the Commonwealth. This is the 20th year for the Dawahares/KHSAA Hall of Fame, which provides a recognition program for officials, administrators, athletes, coaches, and others. The KHSAA has performed six HYPE Student Leadership Conferences. They bring over 400 students in for a one-day seminar. They go through team building exercises that teach respect, leadership, and sportsmanship. Also the Insight Academic All-State program recognizes over 20,000 student athletics with honorable mention or first team academic all-state, based on GPA standing. One of the main things that KHSAA has is the corporate sponsorship of student scholarships. Over $58,000 in scholarships has been awarded to students in 2005 - 2006. Another is the First Corbin Sportsmanship Recognition Program which started in 1997. School winners, as well as regional and statewide winners, are recognized for academic scholarships. KHSAA attempts to get the spotlight on the students whether it be thorough video presentations or poster programs. They are getting a message out and they are using the students in getting the word out. With technology advancement, they began their Web site in 1998 and they use that as a means to communicate to the membership, to the media, and to the fans of high school athletics. They provide a score board for the membership and the general public. They post tournament rules for the membership and get approximately 1.5 million hits a month for the information the site supplies.
Representative Graham asked what is involved when they have the coaching education programs. Mr. Williams said that it is a comprehensive program and is directed along a college level course. It covers sports physiology and other things. He said it was a pretty intense six-hour course. Coaches have to then pass two tests; a coaching education principles test and a test on the association bylaws. They want the coaches to understand what the rules and regulations are as they relate to KHSAA. Anyone who is coaching has to take the course. Representative Graham asked if the athletic directors have to take the course. Mr. Williams said they do not. Representative Graham asked if the athletic directors are required to know the rules and are they tested for the rules. Mr. Williams said they are not tested but they are required to know them. Representative Graham asked why they are not tested if they are the administrators of the program. Mr. Tackett said that a new requirement this year requires that schools send someone with a principal's certification to one of five opportunities for intense instruction on the rules and this certifies them for one year. It is basically like a rules clinic, but this the first time that it has been required. The reason that the principal was chosen is because Bylaw 1 still holds the principal accountable, not the designee. Representative Graham said that in most high schools that are in four A, triple A, or double A and sometimes A, they have an athletic director more or less taking that responsibility over. They may be an assistant principal/athletic director or just an athletic director. Shouldn't they know the rules as well as the coaches so that they can make sure that the coaches are following the rules set out by the KHSAA? Mr. Williams said that he agreed. However, by rule, the building principal is responsible for anything that takes place within that particular school. He or she will be held accountable by the KHSAA. Representative Graham said that if you are going to make the coaches responsible before they enter into their coaching job, then either the principal or the athletic director should also be tested and held accountable for knowing the material. Mr. Williams said that he agreed and maybe that is something that KHSAA needs to discuss and bring to the Board of Control. Mr. Tackett said that when this requirement was first added, one of the primary reasons that coaches were chosen to be regulated is that a number of the coaches working with the high schools are not employees of the school system. Now they are far enough along in the program to include others as well.
Mr. Tackett said that the current football alignment will expire with the 2006 season. Beginning back in the 2002 - 2003 school year, the Football Advisory Committee, made up of 16 individuals throughout the state from the different classes and coaches association began looking at the system and asking if it was working or not. There was a strong feeling among this group and with schools about how class A and class four A is currently divided. That would be our smallest schools and the largest schools. There was too big a disparity within the classes. There might be a high school with less than a hundred students competing in the same class with a school that had 500 students. They began looking to see if the division of schools was done in the best way possible to get a balance. Many times in football a school would have a winning record and would not be able to be in the playoffs because of the district they were in. Every time they expand the playoffs it has been perceived to help the sport. This led the advisory committee to look at the number of classes. They have recommended that KHSAA look at five or six classes as a different alignment for the state. They took this recommendation to the board and the board has studied it almost a year. They decided that the five class system was going to create tremendous geography problems for some schools. After a lot of input from the schools, in August 2006 they adopted a six class system to begin play in 2007. There are still issues related to the travel costs. At the urging of several school superintendents, principals, and people who are very concerned about the cost of travel, the board even changed the way the bracketing was done for the football playoffs. The first two rounds of games are played in November and are played within their district. They are trying to minimize travel costs. The theory of course being that if you are in the district with closer teams it is going to cost less to go and you would also have built in rivalries that will help the gate revenues. It was not unanimously received, but the majority approved of the plan. When it was adopted there were other issues that still are being reviewed. The third or fourth round pairings continue to be a discussion point. The feedback from the schools and coaches is that some teams are tired of getting beat by the same teams every year. If travel can be minimized and they rotate who the schools are playing, then that will eliminate some of the problems. The other thing that everybody is reviewing is the length, starting date, and ending date of the season. They believe they are starting too early in the summer, generally around the third week of August. That is problematic not only with heat but with the start of the first week of school. The board continues to look at the season being too long and at how and when the season will end. They are supposed to finalize this at their meeting this week. The schools would have to decide if the 11th week of the season will be eliminated. KHSAA has talked a lot the past few years about football and how it impacts the students that play it.
Representative Graham said he wanted to commend the KHSAA. He said that he thinks one of the best things that was done for athletics and particularly football was to allow the spring sport activity. It has developed the athletes and more are going off to college. Football was always secondary to basketball. Mr. Tackett said the six divisions that have been proposed and adopted for the 2007 - 2008 playing season will be reviewed after the first year to determine whether this alignment will remain. That was done because of the way football contracts work. They will look to see if they should just have a small division of the small schools and a small division of the very large schools and then divide the rest.
Representative Graham asked if this proposal was on the table prior to the discussion between the public and private schools. Mr. Tackett said it was. In 2002, the football committee started looking at what is called the "Virginia System." Virginia has three classes with two divisions in each. They do that to address the enrollment disparities in the schools. Representative Graham said he had read somewhere that with Kentucky being a small state why would there be six divisions. Other states larger than Kentucky only have four and five divisions. Mr. Tackett said that has been a common opinion with some of the media. The committee's effort was almost exclusively behind the fact that in every other sport all of the athletes get to participate in postseason play. What the other system had created was that the gap between the successful and unsuccessful programs was continuing to widen. The successful high schools could have three or four extra weeks per year of games, practices, and preparation that the teams that didn't make the playoffs have. It was a self fulfilling prophesy and the gap was widening.
Senator Guthrie said there is a smaller city school in Bowling Green that dominates the area in football. He asked if it is purely enrollment that is being used to divide the districts. Mr. Tackett said that it has been that way since football became classified in 1959. Now this year, one of the significant changes was that classification is based on the number of boys enrolled. In the past it had been total school enrollment. Using the total school enrollment really penalized several schools that had a population that was 60 - 62 percent female. One thing that has been done in several other states that was looked at and that didn't significantly change things was to look at the enrollment compared to the participation in sports by the student. Senator Guthrie asked if football is the only sport that will have six categories or will all the sports have six. Mr. Tackett said that only football was reclassified. Track and cross country have an existing three class system. Everything else is a single class in our state. This change will solely be focused on football.
Representative Graham asked if the school is designated as a double A, can they choose to move up to a four A or three A. Can a school move up only one bracket or can they petition to be in a different class rank and how far can they go up if they choose to do so. Mr. Tackett said that the board, when they first discussed this issue in January and reaffirmed it in May, voted to allow the schools to play up without limitation if it helped their geographic placement. Representative Graham said they are only placed in the alignment for two years and then upon the reevaluation of the alignment can petition to come back down. Mr. Tackett said that was true.
Chairman Edmonds asked Ms. DeVries for her group to take the next ten minutes to discuss the public and non-public school issues section because there are a few superintendents that are going to speak.
Ms. DeVries said that in 2004 at the annual meeting there was a proposal to split the association based on schools that gave financial aid. That proposal did not pass. After that she formed a current issues committee made up of principals, superintendents, athletic directors, and a few coaches to study some issues. It was a great group that got together and the best thing that came out of the group was that they identified the top ten issues that they felt needed to be addressed. It was a healthy exercise and in 2005 a proposal came forward to split the championship based on public and non-public schools. Again that was very controversial. The board rejected that and tried to come up with an alternative solution. The Kentucky Board of Education was receptive to this. They wondered if there was a better way to resolve this issue. They formed a 28 person task force made up of public and non public school representatives. There was equal representation, but some folks said that the non-public contingency is only 46 schools. There is a variety of non-public schools. It was a very healthy exercise and they used former Supreme Court Justice James Keller as the facilitator for the meeting. He did a great job bringing the folks together. The task force members came to a consensus on a couple of proposals. They discussed financial aid, participation of below grade nine and up, and some restrictions in the bylaws. Another issue brought forth was the inequality within the football system.
These two areas were drafted into proposal forms and distributed to the membership, and received the necessary 2/3 vote for adoption. There were two conclusions on which the task force could not reach consensus. One was the issue of a territory or feeder pattern and the other was a proposal which would restrict first-year eligibility at a member school to those students who had attended a feeder middle or junior high school as detailed in the regulatory proposal. The Board of Control has currently decided to support the affiliated school concept with one year of ineligibility.
Chairman Edmonds asked about a high schools that spent $30,000 on new equipment for its football team, and during that same year they only spent $1,000 on girls varsity basketball. Is there a report that comes to the KHSAA to show what schools are spending on different sports? Mr. Boucher said that each school is required to self audit and to send a report to the association every year by April 15. Part of that self audit is the monies expended for each of the different sports by gender. Chairman Edmonds asked if Mr. Boucher's office takes a second look if there is a discrepancy. Mr. Boucher said they did and they ask the school to break it down even further to show how much is spent per athlete. Mr. Boucher said the situation Chairman Edmonds described would be a red flag.
Representative Owens said he was trying to understand what the changes are as they relate to financial aid and the students "playing up." Ms. DeVries said that one of the recommendations of the current issues committee, as well as the task force, had to do with increased oversight and taking a look at compliance. The reason the financial piece is important is that in some cases there are records that the association has a right to review to see if there is any manipulation. There is more scrutiny in that particular area than ever before. Representative Owens asked if that was based on a complaint being filed or is there going to be more oversight. Mr. Tackett said there are going to be some reports coming in during the fall dealing with the composition of the student body, how many are receiving financial aid, and how many play sports. They did the first survey three years ago in the non-public schools. This will actually survey all the schools to determine if there are patterns developing that need to be addressed through regulations. Mr. Tackett said that there were interpretations of the recruiting rules that needed to be shifted and made bylaws to give them a little more force. These bylaws might put the schools on more of an equal basis. Representative Owens said that "play up" is when you have a feeder school and the student goes outside the school district that it was assumed that they would follow. Ms. DeVries said that there would be one year of ineligibility if they were outside of that pattern, in grades seven or eight. Representative Owens asked if there was still junior varsity (JV) teams. Ms. DeVries said yes they do have JV teams but there is some discussion about one plus one. The membership will get an opportunity to vote on this issue. Representative Owens asked if this could be a JV year. Ms. DeVries said yes it could be. Mr. Tackett said that one of the things that was brought before the committees, both current issues and the task force, was what if a student had been below the ninth, maybe seventh or eighth grade, and they played on a varsity team, and then they had another free chance to change schools.
Representative Weston asked if a young man or lady in seventh or eighth grade played for a certain high school - coming from the Louisville district where there are private and traditional schools - if they ran for Fairdale High School and then decided to go to Butler Traditional School would they be ineligible for the first year. Ms. DeVries said that they would be ineligible, but in Bylaw 9 there are some exceptions. If they were assigned by the board of education to a particular school then KHSAA would honor that as a condition for a waiver. In some cases, especially in Jefferson County, ineligibility would not be automatic.
Chairman Edmonds thanked Ms. DeVries and the members of her staff for being here today. Representative Collins said that as far as he is concerned KHSAA has done a superior job. He said that he has respect for the KHSAA and they have his support.
Chairman Edmonds said that the next guest is Wilson Sears, from Somerset Independent Schools, representing school superintendents, and Leisa Speer, Superintendent, Louisville Archdiocese Schools. Chairman Edmonds recognized additional superintendents in the audience.
Ms. Leisa Speer, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the current chairperson for the Kentucky Non-Public Schools Commission said non- public schools have been contributing members of the KHSAA since its inception in 1917. They believe in and strongly support the mission of the KHSAA to establish, promote, and deliver the highest quality interscholastic athletic programs and activities in a efficient and progressive manner. Representatives of non-public schools have participated in good faith over many months and throughout several processes to address the issues and concerns brought forth by some public school members of the association. Ms. Speer said she is pleased to say that they have reached consensus on a financial aid proposal that was approved by the KHSAA referendum vote by its membership this summer. They also approved a playing up below grade nine proposal. She said they are pleased that the proposal contained only one year of ineligibility. They would have preferred that the proposal be consistent with the current high school transfer rule and apply only to students varsity sports in grade nine. Both non-public and public school members of the task force and KHSAA staff have expressed their support of enhancing and improving the current investigative and enforcement procedures of the association. In an attempt to formalize a compliance proposal, over two dozen non-public schools are co-sponsoring a compliance proposal to be brought forth before the annual membership at its delegate assembly meeting on October 19, 2006.
Ms. Speer said she wanted to express the concerns of non-public schools regarding any sort of middle school feeder system to determine eligibility for participation in high school athletics. Parents have the right to choose the middle schools they want for their children without unnecessarily limiting their children's eligibility for participation in high school athletics. The current proposal establishing an athletic territory would unnecessarily harm and limit eligibility for thousands of students throughout the state of Kentucky. The KHSAA has voted to send such a proposal to the annual delegate assembly on Octobe r 19.
A recent Sixth Circuit case involving Brentwood Academy and the Tennessee Athletic Association stressed ". . . the substantial governmental interest in informed school choice trumps any governmental interest in controlling which school teams win athletic contests." Imposing any sort of feeder system or geographic boundary on small schools for eligibility to participate in high school athletics threatens the overall liability of these institutions. The proposed rule would either force each school out of the KHSAA or prohibit those students from athletic participation. Several alternative proposals by the non-public schools were soundly defeated by the majority vote. Ms. Speer asked the committee to closely monitor the actions of the KHSAA and not to support any definition of athletic territory that includes a feeder system model that unnecessarily interferes with parents rights to choose the most appropriate schools for their children.
Chairman Edmonds introduced Wilson Sears, Superintendent of the Somerset Independent Schools. Mr. Sears said that he and Ms. Speer have spent several sessions together over the past year. The public schools, in offering this proposal to delegates in October, have no qualms and have no objections as to where people want to send their children to school. This is about sending children to schools for athletic reasons. This is an equity issue. It is about what is fair for all students who participate in sports across the state of Kentucky.
Mr. Sears said their proposal requires the same requirements from both public and private schools. There were several recommendations that came from the task force. The public school membership on that task force completely agreed with the recommendation. The sticking point for the non-public schools, regardless of what you may hear, was also a sticking point for some public schools who themselves do not comply with Bylaw 10. Bylaw 10 is the recruiting bylaw and is very specific about what schools can and can not do in terms of recruiting athletics. He said however, in his opinion and in the opinion of most, Bylaw 10 is both ambiguous and unenforceable. He gave an example. He had a brochure from the Archdiocese of Louisville that had been sent to a student in an adjacent county, not Jefferson County. This student was the best middle school basketball player in that county and the student's family was Methodist. Mr. Sears said this was a blatant violation of Bylaw 10. They don't know who sent it and that is always the case in the violations of Bylaw 10. The public school people and administrators across the state have decided that there needs to be more specificity in terms of which students are eligible to participate at what schools. The non-public schools would argue that this proposal is discriminatory and an invasion of parental rights. Overwhelmingly, the public schools across the state of KY believe that the affiliated schools' proposal is fair for all public and non-public schools.
Senator Shaughnessy said this is an issue that is not new. He said that he represents a district with a number of religious schools. There are Christian schools, a Jewish school, and three Catholic High Schools. The proposal talked about here is much different that splitting the championships. It drives at the very heart, from his perspective, of a core value of what this country stands for. He said when he talks with students and he asks them why did the Pilgrims come to this country, the answer is always the same whether it is a Catholic, Jewish, Christian, or public school. Religious freedom is always the answer. It is a core value of what it means to be an American. People have died for that value throughout our history. This proposal that is being put forth strikes at the very heart of that value because it would discriminate against hundreds of students whose parents sent them to Christian schools for religious formation and then chose to send them to a public school. Now the leadership of the KHSAA wants to tell those students that, at a crucial point in the development of that person, and in their high school careers, they will be unable to participate in athletics for one year. Senator Shaughnessy said LRC staff told him 24 percent of the students in the Somerset school district were non-resident students. The Kentucky Senate passed legislation ( 33 - 3) prohibiting the KHSAA from splitting the playoffs and establishing a feeder school system. He said he did not know how closely Mr. Sears follows the state Senate but they can be a pretty cantankerous bunch. They can be a little partisan, but on this issue it wasn't about democrats or republicans. It was about an issue that they saw as being unfair. It struck at the fundamental value of parents in terms of their right to choose what they think is best for their children. Senator Shaughnessy said that he was asking Mr. Sears to reflect back on what the state Senate did and to go back to the Board of Control and to withdraw the proposal to take the next two years to continue to have a dialogue to work on issues. Senator Shaughnessy said that he wasn't saying that there are issues that need to be addressed but there doesn't need to be this fight. Senator Shaughnessy said that if Mr. Sears didn't do that, then he needed to understand that there will be a fight. He said that he was going to start it next week. He said that he was going to start by going to the Attorney General and asking for an Attorney General's opinion as to whether or not the feeder school proposal is legal and constitutional. He said that he was not a lawyer but he didn't think you had to be a lawyer to see that it is not legal and it certainly not constitutional. He said that he thought the Attorney General would back him up on that. If that is the case, then we have created a whole different issue that he said he would come back to.
Senator Shaughnessy said that he was going to the Department of Education and request information on the feeder system that exists within the public schools. He said that he will get a detailed breakdown of every student that attends a high school throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky outside of the established feeder system within the public school system. Senator Shaughnessy said that he would find out how much tuition they are paying to do that. Then, he said, they will talk in terms of the uniform policy that is going to apply for everybody and a tuition rate that will apply to everyone. He said they will find out how many of those young people are athletes. He said that the six class football system is the most ridiculous, absurd thing that he has ever heard of in his life. He said that it really doesn't matter what he thinks. The third thing he said that he was going to do find a way of conducting an independent review of how that system was set up. He said that Senator Guthrie brought up a very interesting point in terms of what is the classification for determining whether or not you are in a certain class. Senator Shaughnessy said that he can tell you that in class three A, you have schools ranging from 349 to 1,600. He said he didn't know if that made sense or not. Just off the cuff, he said, it doesn't seem to have much relevance if you really wanted to get into addressing what was perceived as inequities in the past. He said that they were going to have to find an independent way of looking at that. Finally, he said, he was going to look at the structure and leadership of the KHSAA. Now it is not a crime to be insensitive. It is however wrong for the leadership of that organization to embark on a strategy that they know is illegal and unconstitutional. Frankly, he said, you have to be a member of the General Assembly to do something like that. We expect a little bit more of the people that are providing leadership over such an important curriculum for our young people. If there is going to be this fight then Senator Shaughnessy said that he was going to look at the structure of the KHSAA and at its leadership, look at models that other states have, and look at how much money is spent on athletics in the public schools across Kentucky. Senator Shaughnessy said that he didn't want to do any of this. He wants to come back for the next session and advocate for more money for cancer research at U of L and UK. He said that he wants to stay focused on the goals that they set under the Kentucky Education Reform Act. He said that if he has to and he is forced to this will be a fight that we don't need. He said it is a fight that KHSAA is not going to win. Senator Shaughnessy said that he hopes they will take his comments in the spirit that they are meant, that they will go back and huddle with colleagues, draw up a proposal, and get back together and continue to have the dialogue. He said that he will assure them that if they find situations in terms of recruitment enforcement or violations of existing KHSAA guidelines and they don't find that they are being addressed by the non-public schools, he said if they would come to him, he would be their biggest ally. He would be their biggest supporter. He said that he was making that offer sincerely because he thinks that it is important that we apply the same rules. He thanked the chairman for letting him make those comments.
Mr. Sears asked if he was allowed to respond. Chairman Edmonds said that he had two minutes. Mr. Sears first of all there is across the state tuition agreements and contractual agreements between many boards of education all subject to being ended by any local board that would like to end them. That is the answer to the students enrolled in public schools who are outside district. It is perfectly legal and if there is anything under handed about it, then either board is allowed to end the contract at any time at the beginning of any year. Secondly, Mr. Sears said, the KHSAA right now requires one year suspension of all athletics for illegal transfers. They are only saying that if you come, you come in the seventh grade. That is what this proposal says. They do not want students to come for athletic reasons. That is very clear. To suggest that they are being insensitive, he said that an argument against this would be insensitive to what is fair for public school children because they are the ones being discriminated against. Mr. Sears said that he would just ask the question, "Do you feel it fair that Lexington Catholic High School can draw students from all over central Kentucky legally and compete with Bourbon County High School who can only draw students from one middle school. Is that fair to the students of Bourbon County?" By the rules of KHSAA that can presently be done. Mr. Sears said that the enforcement of Bylaw 10 has historically been unenforceable. This proposal gives them specificity to eligibility at the ninth grade level.
Chairman Edmonds thanked Superintendent Sears and Superintendent Speer for a very interesting and open dialogue. He thanked Ms. DeVries and her staff for being here today and for their excellent presentation. He thanked Kevin Noland for being here and noted that this will be a part of his new responsibility beginning October 1, 2006.
He said that the October meeting will be at the KCTCS headquarters in Versailles. The committee is going to go back and revisit vocational education. Senator McGaha will be chairing that subcommittee meeting. The full Education Committee will also meet there. He thanked each and every one for being here today.
There being no further business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned at 11:55 AM.