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Clairton enforces 3-strike policy for student athletes

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 2:06 a.m.

Clairton City School District is implementing a three-strike academic policy for student athletes.

“Some of the coaches were concerned about students who don't maintain grades through the whole season or going into the next season,” school board vice president Paulette Bradford said. “In talking to them, we came to an agreement of ‘three strikes and you're out.'”

Every student will begin the sport's season with a clean slate. The start of the 2013 football season is determined by the final grading period of 2012-13. Students are required to maintain a minimum C average, with no failing grades.

“If you didn't make the grade point average, then you have to sit out,” Bradford said. “You cannot play the first three regularly scheduled games until you bring your grade up. Some of these kids already have one strike.”

Clairton's season begins at home on Friday with a 7:30 game against Chartiers-Houston. Seven Clairton players will be benched because of their academic standing.

“Last year, there were 17,” school board president Rich Livingston said. “So we've really made progress with grades,”

The board discussed the new guideline at its meeting Wednesday. School directors said that district staff and administrators are confident it will encourage students to be more concerned with their academic performance.

“If they brought their grades up and then they drop back down, it's their second strike,” Bradford said. “If they reach three strikes they are out for the entire season.

“But if those same students play basketball, then the slate is wiped clean for that sport. It starts over.”

With many students playing both sports, Bradford said, the overlap of ineligibility is too hard on the teams.

“It's not fair to the teams. It's not fair to the coach. It's not fair to that student,” Bradford said. “Students need to be able to maintain their grades throughout the course of the school year, and we hope this is an incentive (to do so) because they are so gung-ho about sports. If they want to play, they will keep their grades up.”

The guideline applies to boys and girls, including cheerleaders.

School director Gloria James asked if measures are in place to keep students from falling below an acceptable academic status.

“You would think you would know a child is not doing well prior to the progress of grades coming out,” James said. “If the grades are being checked every week, what's going on to prevent them from (failing) and get them back on track?”

Bradford said teachers and administrators have been calling students in for intervention if they are falling behind.

“It could be something as simple as students not turning in assignments,” she said. “When we call them in and tell them, they go to their locker and pull out all of these papers that they did, but for some unknown reason, they never turned in. We need to monitor them and keep them on point.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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