Questions about schools

Monday, April 11, 2005

This week I include answers to two questions about the Cape Girardeau School District. Since the beginning of my writing this column, the school system has been the most popular area for questions. This underlines the importance schools have in our community. Many of the questions have helped clear up inaccurate rumors. That said, some of these queries may be more appropriately directed to the superintendent's office or to an individual principal. If you feel stonewalled by the schools, by all means send a question to me. If the question is appropriate to this space, I will track down an answer. But my experience is that the school system welcomes inquiries and will seek to provide answers.

Q: This question has to do with sports teams at Central High School. Does each student have to maintain a certain grade-point average to stay on a team? Are there requirements concerning behavior? Who is responsible for determining if these requirements are being met?

A: According to Mark Bowles, superintendent, many school activities and all sports teams are subject to Missouri State High School Activities Association eligibility guidelines.

"MSHSAA guidelines," Bowles said, "state that ' … a student whose character or conduct is such as to reflect discredit upon himself/herself or his/her school is not considered a good citizen. … Citizenship eligibility cases are reviewed on an individual basis at the school level. …' MSHSAA publishes a listing of seven citizenship guidelines that students and parents are required to read and sign at the beginning of each season. Incidents that violate these guidelines are reviewed by the coach of the team who confers with the athletic director and building principal to determine the proper disciplinary action.

"MSHSAA guidelines also govern academic eligibility. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled in 2.5 credits during the semester of the activity and passed 2.5 credits the previous semester. On top of this, coaches regularly check on their student-athletes' current grades and provide weekly study times for students who are failing any of their courses.

"It is a sign of the high expectations that Cape public schools has for its student athletes as well as its fans that we routinely receive recognition from the SE football officials association for conduct. This past fall, CHS was awarded the top rating from among the 30-plus area schools covered by this association."

Q: How come the principal at Alma Schrader Elementary School has a second-grader there who belongs in Jefferson Elementary School?

A: "The district strictly enforces a practice of requiring that students attend elementary school within the boundaries of the attendance area in which the legal guardian resides," said Bowles. "Exceptions are made only in cases in which other agencies (law enforcement, Division of Youth Services, courts) are involved and have provided documentation requiring that a student attend a different elementary school.

"The district has, on rare occasions, received information that a parent or guardian has reported a false address," Bowles said. "When this occurs, we work quickly to verify the home address and resolve the issue. More often that not, reports of this nature prove to be inaccurate."

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. E-mail him at jrust@semissourian.com.

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