When the principals of member schools convene Wednesday through Friday at the Crowne Plaze Hotel in Baton Rouge, a lot of the talk and focus is going to revolve around whether to split the Louisiana High School Athletic Association entirely, simply in football or reunite as a whole.
As important as those decisions are going to be in regards to the LHSAA’s future, there’s also other items equally as vital such as the proposal requesting that the civil parish boundary line serve as the athletic attendance zone for all member schools located in that parish.
If passed, that means the students who live in a parish with multiple high schools would be eligible immediately for athletics at any school they choose to attend, even if they aren’t technically zoned for that particular school.
“I’ve been pushing for a student being able to go where they want within their parish for years,” Teurlings Catholic Principal Michael Boyer said. “I believe by passing this proposal it would solve a lot of the evils. If a student wants to go to a specific school, then they will find a way to go to that school.
“I mean, just look at Lafayette Parish for example with all of the academies. So, by allowing a kid to go to a particular school and be eligible for athletics immediately is the right thing to do. Every principal in Lafayette Parish for sure should vote for this proposal.”
Westgate head football coach and athletic director Ryan Antoine completely agreed with Boyer.
“I love parish boundary line idea,” Antoine said. “I really, really do. Let the kids go to school where they want to go to school.
“We have like five schools in Iberia Parish now and kids can’t go where they want to because they aren’t in the zone. I wouldn’t want a kid here who doesn’t want to be here. A kid should be able to go where they want to go and I’m sure that is a proposal that we’ll definitely vote in favor of.”
Under the proposal that would now grant a student a school of first choice, which doesn’t exist currently, he/she would be ineligible for one year should he/she transfer to another LHSAA member school in the same parish.
Once a student exercises his/her school of first choice option, that option shall remain in effect even if the student’s parents move their residence from that athletic attendance zone and subsequently return and reestablish a residence in the athletic attendance zone.
In other words, if a student chooses to attend Comeaux High then after a year the student’s family moves to Vermilion Parish where he/she attends Abbeville High and then a year later the family moves back into Lafayette Parish that student is still only eligible immediately at Comeaux. So, if the student attends Lafayette High. he/she would be ineligible for one year.
“The boundary line proposal makes some sense, but how would those kids get to school?” Loreauville’s head football coach Trent Delahoussaye asked rhetorically. “I don’t like it particularly, but I can definitely see how some people would like it. We want the kids who are zoned to come to our school to come to our school and under that proposal we could find ourselves not getting those kids.”
In Louisiana, there are four parishes – Cameron (4 schools), Orleans (34 schools), Pointe Coupee (4 schools) and Rapides (13 schools) – that have multiple schools and only one attendance zone.
There are 13 parishes – Assumption, Caldwell, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin (1 non-public school), Madison, Morehouse, Red River, St. Bernard, St. Helena, Tensas, Union (1 charter school) and West Feliciana – that only have one attendance zone in the entire parish.
There are six parishes – LaSalle, Natchitoches, St. Charles, St. James, St. John and West Baton Rouge -that have two attendance zones.
Lafayette Parish has academies at almost every school which allow students to attend a school even if it is outside of their attendance zone. although they aren’t immediately eligible to play athletics.
Caddo Parish has several dual curriculum schools that allows students to attend a school outside their attendance zone and those students are eligible immediately for athletics.
There are 17 parishes – Allen, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Plaquemines, Sabine, Vernon, Washington and Webster – that do not have a non-public or charter school within its civil parish boundary lines.
Jefferson Davis Parish wouldn’t benefit at all if the proposal was passed because it is under a court order for students to attend school in their attendance zone.
“I like for things to be simple,” St. Thomas More athletic director Kim Broussard said. “I like for rules to be clear and simple and I believe this is a proposal that is clear and simple. I’m OK with the boundary line serving as the athletic zone which would give a student a school of first choice.
“I know that passing it may open up a lot of controversy because some may feel it would create the opportunity to recruit kids and that concern is a negative because I’ve never been one to condone recruiting.”
The proposal of the boundary line is viewed as something that would also help cut out the growing concern about student-athletes transferring late in their high school careers.
For example, in the 2012-13 school year, 931 student athletes transferred from one school to another and 501 (54 percent) of those students transferred within the parish.
Of the 931 transfers, 773 (83 percent) of those transferring students either moved within the parish or 39 miles or less from their original residence.
“The rule I believe would cut out the late transfers,” LHSAA Commissioner Kenny Henderson said. “It would remove what we saw last year, where a student attends one school as a freshman, sophomore and junior, then transfers to another school in that same parish that he is zone for to play his senior year. It makes a student live with their choice once they make it.”