LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Questions concerning the district’s athletic policy dominated a meeting held by the East Bernstadt Independent school board Thursday evening.
Board members Sandra Smith, Mequeil Storm, Kip Jervis and Jim Sutton penned a new policy during their meeting Thursday following several concerns that their current athletic policy’s language is a bit murky when it comes to incoming transfer students and students repeating grades.
Under a new policy—currently being penned by the board’s attorney Larry Bryson—all students from 4th to 8th grade can only play once per grade year. This means a student cannot be held back in 7th grade and expect to play a sport again at the same grade level. Transfer students will not be eligible to play a sport for one year after transferring to East Bernstadt, with the exception of students progressing from 5th to 6th grade.
The board went on to decide that students must wait an entire calendar year —365 days—if transferring into East Bernstadt in the middle of the school year. Furthermore, the activities of dance and cheerleading will also be affected, as they fall under the umbrella of athletics.
Luckily, when it came to students repeating grade levels, all board members where in unanimous agreement about playing sports at East Bernstadt Independent.
“If you hold back, you don’t play,” said Jim Sutton. “You sit out a year across the board.”
Unfortunately, when it came to students transferring to East Bernstadt from other schools —including, but not limited to, schools in Laurel County —solutions to potential situations were not so clear-cut.
“I only mention this because we’ve gone through this before: what about a student who has played ball his whole life at East Bernstadt not getting a chance in seventh or eight grade because another student has transferred in?” asked board member Mequeil Storm. “I feel like there are plenty of parents who feel betrayed for letting something like this happen.”
For board member Kip Jervis, it was important to limit the transfer rule to those making “lateral moves” in middle school and not those who are progressing—unless they’re seventh and eighth graders.
“We need students,” Jervis said. “But we can’t let a kid who isn’t getting enough playing time at, say, North or South, come play ball for a year, sharpen his game, and go back to North or South the next year to play.”