Coaches may play by new rules

New policy pitched Tuesday

Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Coaches would have written criteria for student participation in sports, and parents and students would have a say in evaluating coaches, under a proposed revision of the Juneau schools' policy on activities.

``We appreciate all the work people are doing in activities,'' said Juneau School Board member Carolyn Spalding in an interview today. ``However, the board's role is to make sure that everyone understands what's expected in an activity, and not necessarily to change the activities.''

There are inconsistencies in current regulations and in practices, she said.

The board has heard complaints from parents about coaches' behavior and requirements for making and staying on teams that parents considered unclear, unfair or excessive.

But some coaches said complaints from parents of students cut from teams are expected, there are intramural opportunities, and the school board shouldn't do anything to reduce competitiveness.

The draft policy, which had its first reading at Tuesday's meeting, refers to activities that generally take place outside of the regular school day in sports, the arts and academics.

The draft says coaches or advisors will decide who participates in activities that are skill-based or have limited numbers, but the decision must be based on fair and equitable written criteria.

It also calls for a process for parent and student input in the performance evaluation of coaches and advisors.

And it requires the schools superintendent to approve out-of-state travel or fund-raising for such trips. It's not intended to limit travel, but to track it because the school district could be responsible for the trips, Spalding said.

``A lot of work still needs to be done to try to develop the rules and put them into practice,'' Spalding said.

Robin Eleazer, the JDHS cheerleading coach, said today she wasn't sure what the policy's intent is because the school board hasn't gone to coaches with its concerns. ``This broad brush is hurting everybody for a couple of people that aren't happy,'' she said.

Eleazer said it could be hard for coaches to put criteria in writing because there are too many variables, of differing weight, that go into making a team. Each year it's different because the students differ.

``It has to be the coach's discretion on how to make the team that can work together because otherwise you don't have a team,'' Eleazer said.

Eleazer didn't object to parent and student input into coaches' evaluations, which now happens in teacher evaluations, but she wasn't sure what it would accomplish. The district already has a grievance procedure through coaches, the principal and the superintendent.

Parent Elsa Demeksa said enforcement is the question. She wanted the policy to define the consequences for coaches who didn't comply. And she called for a review board that would include parents to field complaints and evaluate coaches.

``Right now, there is no evaluation mechanism at all. They can do what they want,'' she said in an interview.

The board has scheduled the policy's final reading for June 6.

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