The perception by some athletic directors, coaches and parents is that River Hill participates in county athletics but does not play by the same rules. Their frustration is not directed at River Hill coaches, but rather the system that they say creates an uneven playing field.
Maurice F. Kalin, associate superintendent of planning and support services, has made decisions that many felt were unfair. Kalin addressed those issues yesterday afternoon when he spoke at a meeting of high school principals and athletic directors.
Kalin drew the ire of many when he granted waivers to six River Hill students that allowed them to remain at the school for their senior year even though they had dropped out of the Technology Magnet Program. Four of six were athletes, but Kalin said athletics had nothing to do with his decision.
Another decision by Kalin involved a freshman girl basketball player that lives in the Jessup area but attends River Hill. The young athlete is considered one of top freshmen players in the county.
According to a number of athletic directors attending yesterday's meeting, Kalin told the group that any decision previously made will not be changed. He did offer a plan that would make policies more consistent in the future for student-athletes involved in administrative transfers and the tech magnet and ROTC programs. He also asked for input from the principals and athletic directors.
A recommendation was made that a committee of county school employees be formed to review any waivers granted involving athletic eligibility. That recommendation, said athletic directors, must be approved the the Board of Education.
When the tech magnet program started at River Hill and Long Reach in 1996, students were told at the beginning they would have to return to their home school if they dropped out of the program. Kalin said students at River Hill were told by guidance counselors they could drop the program and remain for their senior year.
"They were told they could stay and play," Kalin said yesterday. "We should not penalize them."
Kalin makes decisions on hundreds of requests each year for students seeking to move to a school out of their home district under an open enrollment policy.
"I can place a student anywhere in the county," Kalin said yesterday.
He did just that with the placement of the freshman basketball player.
"I thought it was in the best interest of the student to place her at River Hill," said Kalin, who would not be more specific. "Athletics were not involved."
The girl's home school reportedly is Hammond, meaning if she decided to enter the tech magnet program she would have to attend Long Reach. But she has been allowed to enter River Hill, which finished 24-1 last season and was unbeaten in the county.