The Fannin County Board of Education this week voted to eliminate a no-cut-cut rule for school sports. The rule states all students who try-out for a sports team must be accepted on that team. Superintendent Mark Henson says the rule has been in place since approximately 1991.
In May, Fannin High School Principal Eric Cioffi approached the board requesting the rule be reversed or eliminated. Cioffi said the rule prevents Fannin County from being competitive in certain sports, such as a football and baseball. He went on to explain that the county’s recreational sports programs are available for students who do not earn positions on school sports teams.
The issue resurfaced in June and the board agreed it would make a decision on the request in July.
During Tuesday’s works session, Chairwoman Sandra Mercier said over the last few months the board has heard from stakeholders in the community and at the high school on the issue. Board member Bobby Bearden supported eliminating the rule, explaining that students who do not make school sport teams still have an opportunity to play with the county’s recreational programs.
“I believe there is no-cut-cut policy everyday of our lives,”
he said. Although he had previously supported the no cut rule because he felt it was the best way to keep kids in school, Board member Terry Bramlett said he would change his vote based on the recommendation of the principals. Here, Bramlett noted the school system doesn’t have extra personnel to take care of the expanded numbers of students on the teams.
“I have concerns about the coaches’ ability to monitor those large numbers and keep them safe,”
he said. Vice Chair Steve Stanley said he would vote with the principals’ recommendation to dispense with the rule, also citing recreational sports programs.
Conversely, though, board member Lewis DeWeese disagreed, saying the no-cut rule is one of the best tools the school system has for keeping kids in school, based on the theory that sports and other extracurricular activities provide a reason for students to stay in school.
Lewis DeWeese (left)
Chairwoman Sandra Mercier, though, said she felt it was sending the wrong message when the system allows students who really don’t want to be on the team to be on the team.
“it is inconsistent to say, ‘anybody could be on the team who wants to be on the team without his or her having earned it.”
In his remarks, DeWeese also noted that the school technically does not have a no-cut policy so he wasn’t sure what the board was debating. No-cut was an administrative regulation, not a district policy. As such, Superintendent Mark Henson said the elimination or replacement of the rule would also be an administrative regulation.
After the second was made on the motion, DeWeese asked if the implication of the motion was that the board would have no hand in crafting the regulation. Any board involvement in drafting the regulations, Mercier said, could raise a red flag with SACS, Georgia’s educational accreditation board. School administrators will compose the regulation and the administrators are accountable to the superintendent.
The board voted to approve the elimination of the rule, 4-1, DeWeese voting against the motion.