Hurricane or not, Isaac has caused the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board to move its meeting date and time for discussion on its student-athlete academic eligibility policy, which has become an emotional issue.
Six football players were ruled ineligible because of poor grades in the last report card period of the 2011-2012 school year. However, another eligibility qualification is that a student has to have at least a 2.25 grade-point average to play sports.
All six players have anywhere from a 2.7 to 3.2 GPAs.
Because of Isaac, the special meeting has been moved from Monday night to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Charter School. Thursday was the alternate choice, but set for 6 p.m., the same time as the school’s football team hosts the Community School of Naples.
Board President Tarik Ayasun changed the meeting time to 8 p.m. to give interested parties an opportunity to see the game and come to the meeting. Ayasun said the time change was determined after contacting other board members.
The time change also benefits school board member Lisa Meurgue.
Her daughter. Emmanuelle, will set an historic school football mark when she kicks off to start the football game, or attempts a field goal on Thursday.
The present policy that was put into effect 16 years ago, says if an athlete gets two D's or an F in the latest report card period the student is ineligible for school sports in the next report card period.
Ayasun said the discussion will not change the student ineligibility policy, unless the board determines that the policy has not been applied uniformly. The discussion might result in an amendment to the policy that will allow mitigating circumstances if it played a role in the student having a poor grade in the last report card period.
"The policy as it stands will not change, but an amendment will be discussed," Ayasun. "The rule remains that academically it is important to have the grade rule, which has worked for 15 years. The ineligible student remains ineligible unless an amendment is approved and administration (Principal George Abounader) determines mitigating circumstances.
“The board makes policy, it does not get involved in day-to-day operation of the school.”
Those looking to get the athletes back on the football field argue that the Charter School is the only public middle school in Collier County that has the policy. According to Matt Kuk, Lely High activities director, public high schools, and those members of the Florida High School Athletic Association, have an eligibility rule of a 2.0 GPA. He said the grade is determined by overall performance not by one report card period. The GPA is cumulative, taking in all three years of high school.
Private schools, First Baptist Academy and Community School, have eligibility rules because they sometimes have middle-schoolers on the high school teams. First Baptist Academy’s GPA rule is 2.0 and Community’s GPA is 2.5.
Greg West, an assistant football coach, whose son Zach is on the team and eligible, said the GPA determination is fairer. "Any kid could have a bad period of time. There could be family problems, illness, any kind of situation that can cause a kid to have a bad report card period, “ he said.
Ayasun said, "They (parents) have to decide if the student's grades are more important than football," he said. "When the school was established it was to be different than other schools. We want our kids to be successful and this school wants be better than others."
Lisa Meurgue is relieved that she will be able to go to the game first.
"People know about my fight against cancer, few know that my sister lost her battle with cancer," she said. "My sister was the first girl in Wisconsin to make the boys baseball team. She was the first to hit a home run and make an all-star team. I know she will be watching down here."
Emmanuelle Meurgue, an eighth grader, said she will be nervous when she goes into the game to either kick off, or attempt a field goal.
"When I do go in I will be doing it in tribute to my aunt who was an all-star back in the 70s," she said.