WR talks policy

Stacey Hartley • Oct 4, 2019 at 9:09 AM

COLLINS — The Western Reserve Local Schools board of education examined school policies, handbooks and contracts during a special session Wednesday.

A matter pertaining to requirements for student-athletes was in the forefront. Megan Kolb, a parent, approached athletic director Ryan Falknor after noticing — or rather not noticing — defined expectations for athletes to earn a varsity letter.

“Western Reserve does not have specific requirements for student-athletes to receive varsity letters — it’s up to each individual coach,” Kolb said.

“(So) I’m requesting that minimum requirements be made and placed in the student athletic handbook and that those requirements will carry over year to year,” said the former student-athlete who has children in the school district. “How can athletes know what to do to earn a ‘letter’ if they don’t know?”

After her written request to Falknor to make the requirements more concrete was denied, she began the formal process of bringing the issue in front of Western Reserve’s board of education.

Superintendent Rodge Wilson admitted the multi-step process is not always a quick or easy one. 

“There’s a specific system in place for an issue to make it to board hearing, and while it’s not fun, I have to hand it to Mrs. Kolb because she followed that process to the letter.”

Finally, Kolb was able to present her case to the board at a Sept. 18 meeting. 

“She did a nice job presenting,” board president Jami White said. And while White conceded while there is similar wording already in the student-athlete handbook: “the giving of awards to individuals is based on the individual(s) meeting the necessary requirements in each sport, as set by the coach or by another coach’s recommendation,” there was a consensus among board members this specific issue hadn’t been raised. 

“It’s never even been brought to a question in my 17 years of coaching,” said Chris Sheldon, assistant principal for the middle and high schools.

Despite that, the board agreed letting students know what is expected of them is a good idea, in addition to having those expectations in writing.

Wilson notified Kolb of the board’s final decision Thursday afternoon. The superintendent denied her request to have it in the student handbook, but agreed to add the stipulations to be signed-off by athletes and their parents during preseason meetings, starting the winter season. 

“While I am not completely happy with the decision, at least they are requiring the coaches to set the requirements at the beginning of the season and letting the kids know what they need to do to letter,” Kolb said.

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