Dozens of Anne Arundel County residents gave their mixed views to the school board last night on its controversial new policy requiring a minimum 2.0 grade-point average for students participating in sports.
Although virtually every speaker favored the 2.0 policy, most raised objections to its full implementation when the school year began in late August, without public input, rather than the standards being raised gradually.
The long procession of speakers delayed the board's plan to vote on possible changes in its new academic standards, including whether to apply the minimum-grade standards to all extracurricular activities, allow students to carry one failing grade, or reducing the period of time in which students would be barred from competitive sports until a failing grade is improved.
The minimum-grade requirement for sports brought objections from black parents and community leaders because it threatened to make nearly two-thirds of Anne Arundel's black male high school students ineligible to participate.
Figures showing that 60 percent of black male high school students, and 70 percent of black male freshmen, have less than a C average came to light at the Oct. 7 board meeting during a report on the effects of the new grade-point average policy on students. The revelations left many board members stunned and outraged.
Members of the Committee for Education Equity also expressed their outrage concerning the figures relating to black males at last night's meeting.
Board members had been asked to review the new policy, which applied to athletes only and included a provision that prohibited a student with one failing grade from participating in a sport unless he or she improves the grade within 20 days.
During the 20-day period, students would be prohibited from practicing or participating in team activities.
Student athletes argued that a 20-day period without practice would leave them in poor condition and at risk of being injured. Coaches argued that the influence of team members during practice encourages students in academic trouble to bring up their grades.