Dayton’s school board on Tuesday lowered the required grade-point average for student sports eligibility and introduced a mandatory tutoring program for those athletes at the low end of the scale.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires students to pass at least five one-credit courses or the equivalent during the most recent quarter. But OHSAA allows schools to set their own, higher standards, which Dayton has had in place in recent years.
Dayton Public Schools’ existing policy required students to earn at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in order to play. The new policy will allow students between 1.0 and 1.99 to participate — if they enroll in their school’s Athletic Academic Intervention Program.
In order to remain eligible, those students must “remain enrolled for at least one calendar year, must attend all study tables, and must make satisfactory progress toward the established goal of a 2.0 GPA each academic quarter.
DPS attorney Jyllian Bradshaw explained that last item. It means if there is any quarter where a sub-2.0 GPA student-athlete sees their cumulative GPA decline, the student-athlete will immediately be academically ineligible for the next quarter. But a student with a 1.3 GPA who increases it to a 1.4 will be eligible for the following quarter.
A quick review of a few other school districts’ Web sites showed that Fairmont High School requires academic intervention for student-athletes with GPAs between 1.5 and 1.99, with those at 1.49 and below ineligible. Fairborn High School requires a flat 2.0 minimum GPA to be eligible. Stebbins requires only the OHSAA minimum of passing five one-credit courses.
Joe Lacey was the only school board member to vote against the change, saying it doesn’t take too much effort to get a “C” average, and the district should incentivize students to do so. He added that Dayton Public Schools has won numerous state championships with the existing 2.0 policy, and that the change would look bad after last year’s very public eligibility problems on the Dunbar football team.
Board member Sheila Taylor said the goal is to keep kids in sports programs, where they are around fellow students with high goals. Superintendent Rhonda Corr agreed, saying sports are the “hook” that keeps some kids motivated in school.
Board President Robert Walker emphasized the newly designed intervention programs that give students more academic support if they are struggling.
Adil Baguirov abstained from the vote. During the board’s discussion he said he understood the goal to prevent kids from dropping out, but said any lowering of standards would be seen negatively by many in the community. He asked at one point if the district could keep the intervention plan, but require a higher GPA.