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Carthage Central School District makes no changes to athletics policy

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GREAT BEND — The Carthage Central School District’s Board of Education members and administrators ended Monday’s meeting with one message: do whatever it takes to keep students in school.

The district’s athletic policy governing students who are failing subjects came under scrutiny, sparking a debate over how strict the school should be while still keeping students engaged. The policy states that if student athletes are failing a subject five weeks into the grading period, they have two weeks to improve their grades in order to stay on the team.

Board member Tod W. Nash said the policy should be reviewed because students should at least pass their classes if they want to finish the football season or play the lead in a school play.

“I’m not saying it should be a no-tolerance policy,” he said. “I’d like to see something between this and a no-tolerance policy.”

Mr. Nash said he did not like the idea that students can be allowed to do poorly in class for five weeks and then be granted two more weeks to improve.

Board member Anne M. Rohr, who is a former teacher and administrator, said she does not feel the policy needs to change.

“You don’t want to punish them to the point where they give up, Tod,” she said. “Education is about learning.”

She said Mr. Nash’s stricter approach would work only if students have supportive parents at home.

“There are things that can happen to kids where they can’t get their work in,” Ms. Rohr said.

Superintendent Peter J. Turner said he does not want a policy that discourages students from taking advanced classes because they are scared to fail.

High School Principal Joseph S. Sedita said he tries to create a culture that encourages students to get good grades and to stay in school.

“One thing we’ve done is get a kid involved in school who is not involved in school,” he said.

By getting more involved, students have a reason to keep their grades up and look forward to coming to school.

Athletic Director Stephen J. Nolan said that students often are referred to him by concerned teachers long before five weeks into the grading period. He also said the policy states that students can be kept from competitions and games if they are failing to turn in homework or are chronically late for school.

“I feel that if we are too severe, we’ll lose some of the students,” Mr. Nolan said.

In the end, no changes were made to the policy, which has been in effect for 10 years. The Interscholastic Athletics Handbook was renewed in a unanimous vote.

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