COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association board of directors voted to remove students who attend community schools and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) schools from local public school enrollment counts Thursday, according to a press release from the OHSAA.
The decision changes the OHSAA’s previous policy and will result in the OHSAA revising and reposting the enrollment counts for each school and the divisional alignments that will be used for the upcoming fall tournaments.
Winter and spring sports divisional alignments will follow in the near future.
The passage of Ohio House Bill 487 in July of 2014 gives those students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities at their local public school, according to the release.
Since data from the Ohio Department of Education included the public school district where students reside, the OHSAA decided to include community school and STEM school students in the enrollment of local public schools.
For districts with multiple high schools, students were divided evenly among that districts’ schools.
However, Thursday’s action by the board in its first meeting of the 2015-16 school year reversed that decision.
“Simply put, the decision to include charter school students was based on our longstanding past practice of counting kids who had participation opportunities,” OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said. “We were not wrong to make that decision at the time, but the feedback we’ve received from many member schools across the state about the negative impact this had on tournament divisional movement for schools, combined with the belief that so few of these students currently take advantage of these participation opportunities, made us realize it is best for us to study this issue further. This is a new issue we now have to address and has many ramifications.”
In July, The Columbus Dispatch reported almost every high school in the Columbus City Schools district went up at least a division in football and basketball. Some schools, like Africentric, took the biggest hit. Africentric nearly doubled its enrollment according to the numbers the OHSAA used and went from Division IV to II in boys basketball, the Dispatch reported. The football team rose from Division VII up to Division IV.
As soon as possible, the OHSAA will configure the new divisional assignments for fall sports, including new regional assignments in football, and will post the updated information at: http://www.ohsaa.org/members/sptdivis15.htm
The OHSAA has already begun the process of forming a committee to study the issue. The committee will meet this fall to determine the best way to include community school and STEM school students in enrollment counts in the future.
In June, the OHSAA issued a release explaining why charter school and STEM school students were included in enrollment counts. The release is posted at: http://www.ohsaa.org/members/Memos/20150626.pdf