CAROLINE CROSSROADS Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
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School board revises 2.0 GPA policy for athletes, leaders

The Caroline County  School Board approved a revised policy that would require students to have 2.0 grade-point averages the previous semester to participate in athletics and class leadership positions.

The revised policy will be phased in and apply only to incoming freshmen and students thereafter. The original policy was to begin for all students next school year.

Caroline High School principal Harper Donahoe said the reason for the change was because he received a lot of feedback from parents that were concerned about the policy starting at the same time the students will have block scheduling for the first time.

The 2.0 gpa-to-play policy was approved 4-1 Monday night, with School Board member Wendell Sims voting against it.

Sims said he is concerned that Caroline athletes would be at a disadvantage because there would be an 18-point disparity between them and athletes at surrounding schools due to different grading scales.

He said a student in Spotsylvania with a 61 gpa could play sports, while a Caroline athlete with a 77 gpa could not.

“I think it’s unfair,” he said. “The next [school] board is going to reverse this.”

School Board Chairman Mack Wright disagreed saying they need to raise the bar for Caroline students instead of lowering it.

Donahoe said in an earlier presentation that under the new policy, 72 students, or 43 percent, on the football and boys’ basketball teams would not pass the standard. But they would also be ineligible to get into college under NCAA rules, which require a 2.0, he said.

“Coaches have already started to prepare for this and have implemented tutoring for those that dont meet the gpa,” he said.

Donahoe said most students holding class leadership position meet the standard.

Caroline now follows Virginia High School League policy, which requires athletes to take and pass at least five classes the previous semester. This will remain in place for current ninth through eleventh graders until they graduate. It will also apply in conjunction with the new 2.0 policy starting with the upcoming freshman class.

Students whose averages fall between 1.5 and 1.99 the previous semester and wish to participate may apply for one-time exemptions, Donahoe said. Incoming freshmen and first-year transfer students are also exempt.

In other School Board news:

  • the school board’s preliminary $35.9 million operating budget  was approved despite a $1.9 difference from the requested county contribution.
  • The board selected Feb. 21, March 18 and March 21 as snow makeup days.

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