A couple of weeks ago the Loudoun County School Board approved a change allowing students free transfer to schools not at capacity. With two young daughters who play softball, my first thought was… YES! Now they can play for Coach Spicer at Woodgrove HS without having to move. Don’t laugh, I know I’m not the only parent of an athlete who thought about it. Stonebridge is putting out 7 scholarship football players a year, and Woodgrove is doing the same thing for softball and girls soccer. I know sports aren’t and shouldn’t be everything in high school, but they are a part.
Well, the Virginia High School League (they determine athletic eligibility) has said not so fast. Here are some answers directly from the LCPS site:
1. If I am a currently enrolled high school student and voluntarily choose to attend a high school under the special permission provision of School Board Policy §8-20 (School Assignment) different from my home school, will I remain eligible for VHSL athletics?
ANSWER: No. The VHSL Transfer Rule (28-6-1) prohibits a current high school student from transferring without a corresponding change in his/her parents’ residence. This period of ineligibility lasts for 365 consecutive calendar days.
2. I heard that the school system can grant a “waiver” so I can remain eligible for VHSL athletics?
ANSWER: A waiver may be considered for transfers that are required or mandated by the school system or are for the welfare of the student or school system but not for athletic/activity reasons.
3. I am a rising 9th grade student and I would like to apply for special permission to transfer to a high school other than my home high school for next year. If I file during the period for filing applications as provided by School Board Policy §8-20, will I be eligible for VHSL athletics at the other high school?
ANSWER: Yes. A student’s eligibility for VHSL athletics/activities begins when they enter the 9th grade for the first time. A student remains eligible at the high school they enter as a 9th grader for 8 consecutive semesters as long as they remain continuously enrolled at the high school. If you did not like your transfer high school and wanted to return to your home high school the following year, then you would be ineligible for 365 consecutive days. If, however, you were prevented from attending the transfer high school the following year because the high school no longer had capacity, then a waiver may be considered.
4. What happens if a student is mistakenly allowed to play in VHSL athletics even though he or she is actually ineligible due to the Transfer Rule?
ANSWER: The high school that allowed the student to play when he or she was ineligible will forfeit all of the games in which the student played. Other sanctions are possible against the school depending upon the situation.
So, it looks like existing high school students are out of luck, but middle school children can choose where they want to go and still be eligible. Hope that clears things up a bit, now I just have to hope Woodgrove doesn’t fill up in the next few years.