Extracurricular activities are desirable and important. But the Palm Beach County School District’s duty to provide extra extracurricular activities is limited.
Some students have been participating in such after-school activities at schools they don’t attend. For example, a few students at Dreyfoos High School, which is an arts magnet, and Inlet Grove High School, which is a charter school, march in the Suncoast High School band. When the district disallowed the outsiders’ participation, the parents and students protested and won a reprieve.
The district’s policy now is interpreted to allow home-schooled students and students at charter and magnet schools to participate in extracurricular activities at the neighborhood school they otherwise would attend. School Board Vice Chair Debra Robinson, in remarks at a recent school board meeting, raised the possibility that students should be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at any school they wish. The students would be responsible for their own transportation. Organized sports, which operate under rules that forbid recruiting and many other forms of transfers for the sake of competing, would not be included.
Dr. Robinson did not make a formal proposal, and no date has been set for the school board to consider a sweeping policy change. Dr. Robinson said, “What I’m proposing is messy. … I know it would be messy. But I don’t want to deny students’ opportunities just because it would be easier on the system.”
The ability of school districts to deal with “messy” situations is finite. School choice based on academic curricula is becoming messy enough that the district doesn’t need the added distraction of a messy extracurricular system. So any expanded policy should try to contain the mess — including the emerging security problem of keeping track of non-students who are on campus.
Students should have to provide their own transportation. Students going outside the school they attend should have to participate in the extracurricular activity that is closest to their neighborhood school or their actual school. Outside students should be able to enroll only in extracurricular programs that have open slots; they should not be able to bump students trying to participate at their assigned schools.
Even then, there can be problems: Should an outside student get to play Romeo or Juliet while students from that school are relegated to walk-ons? Any new extracurricular policy, as much as possible, has to avoid creating extra problems.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board