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School board discusses athlete GPA

The Madison County School Board gathered for their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. First on the agenda was public comment. James Johnson, assistant principal at James Madison Preparatory High School, came forward to the board with a concern regarding two cheerleaders. Johnson explained that the two cheerleaders are a part of the youth of Madison First Baptist and have been raising money for a mission trip to Jamaica since February.

However, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) camp that cheerleaders are required to take is the same week of the trip. The cheerleaders knew about the FCA camp, but were not aware of the date until recently. The girls were given an ultimatum - either go to FCA camp or the mission trip; if they do not attend the FCA camp, they will be disqualified from the team. The cheerleading members commented that they are willing to go to other training camps if they miss the FCA camp.

Many school board members juggled around the district's policy about situations such as this and also wondered if the cheerleaders’ rights had been infringed on, since they are choosing to go to a religious community service event rather than a cheerleading camp.

After much discussion between the superintendent and board members, the board voted to allow the students to go on the mission trip so long as accommodations are made to attend another FCA camp.

In new business, the board approved staff trips, out of county school trips, the advertisement of 2016-2017's student conduct and the student progression plan. Superintendent Doug Brown presented some  changes to the school calendar, stating that school will begin on Monday, August 8.

Next, the board approved screened school volunteers and personnel changes, as well as the description of the job description for bus  monitors. The board also voted to advertise for a paraprofessional at DJJ, as there is a vacant position that needs to be filled. The board approved this, 4-1.

Town Attorney Tom Reeves outlined the resolution of sale for the portables at Madison County High School. The portables will be sold as-is and the buyer will be responsible for any damage that occurs during transit.

For construction updates, Superintendent Brown stated that there will be a special meeting held on Monday, May 23 to go over the funding and project priority of the construction work at the high school at 5 p.m.

Brown presented his items, mentioning that the district has won an award from Florida Healthy School. There will be a presentation from Florida Healthy Start in a future meeting.

Dustin Rucker, athletic director of  Madison County Central School (MCCS), came to the podium next to discuss the eligibility requirements for the athletic programs at MCCS. A student must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher in order to participate. Rucker explained to the board that he received a letter from FHSAA stating that the district needs a policy regarding practice; students with a 2.0 GPA will be allowed to practice, but cannot compete in any games. 9th grade students are given a free ride for their first semester but are evaluated later during the start of their next semester.

“To me, if they have a 2.0 GPA, they should be focusing on academic, not athletic,” said Rucker.

After much discussion, the board voted to allow students with a 2.0 GPA to participate in athletic programs so long as they attend after-school tutoring, if it is offered, before  practice. These students may not participate in games and will be reevaluated each semester.

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7 at 6 p.m.

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