Of Cheerleaders And Charter Schools: What Does “Full Participation” Mean?

By Lynette Norris,
Greene Publishing, Inc.
As the Madison County School District moves into its second year of having a chartered public high school (James Madison Preparatory High School) included in its offerings, the district is moving into unchartered waters and running into questions and situations no one anticipated.
One of those questions arose recently regarding the state department of education’s “full participation” requirement for charter schools.  If a chartered public school such as James Madison does not have its own sports teams, marching band, chorus, cheerleading squad, or other co-curricular/extracurricular activity, its students by law must be allowed full participation in those activities at another public school.
For the past school year, several JMPHS students participated in high school sports and other activities at Madison County High School, but this year added a new twist to the question of what constitutes “full participation.”  Two tenth-grade junior varsity cheerleaders, who had expected to attend MCHS during the 2014-2015 school year, were elected by their peers as captain and co-captain of the squad.  Then they were accepted into James Madison Preparatory High School.
Of course they could still be cheerleaders.  But the question was, could they remain in their position as captain and co-captain of the squad?
At first, under the full participation rule, the answer seemed to be yes, but after a meeting held with School Superintendent Doug Brown, MCHS cheerleader sponsor Ruth Ann Latner, MCHS Principal Ben Killingsworth, JMPHS board member Justin Davis and JMPHS Principal Demetrius Rice, the answer was no.
The cheerleader who was chosen co-captain chose to remain at MCHS and retain her role as co-captain, but the captain has decided to attend James Madison Prep School; thus having to forfeit her position  as captain.
By statute, they can both remain cheerleaders, but to be in the leadership positions as captain or co-captain, they need to be students at MCHS and be physically present on the campus.
Brown explained the difference between cheerleading captains and other team and activity captains as one of access and availability.  Sports team captains and co-captains could fulfill their duties in their leadership roles after school, on the sports fields.  It is the same way with co-curricular activities such as band, where the students would have to take a music class at the high school.  JMPHS principal Rice said he had no problem releasing students for regularly scheduled events such as a music class, or releasing the cheerleaders for pep rallies at…TO CONTINUE READING THIS STORY, CLICK HERE OR PICK UP A COPY OF THE AUGUST 8, 2014 EDITION OF THE MADISON ENTERPRISE-RECORDER
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Lynette Norris

Written by Lynette Norris