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RPSB to pursue legal action against LHSAA following ruling to redefine ‘select’ schools

RPSB voted during a special meeting to pursue all legal action against LHSAA following a decision to redefine what a “select” school is for athletic purposes.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 3:25 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish School Board unanimously voted during a special meeting to pursue all legal action against the Louisiana High School Athletic Association following a decision last week by the LHSAA to redefine what a “select” school is for athletic purposes.

Under the new definition, schools with magnet programs, charter schools and parishes with open enrollment will join private schools on the select side for athletics.

This ruling affects all public high schools in Rapides Parish that fall under open enrollment. The board emphasized multiple times during the special meeting that they are not getting rid of open enrollment in the parish, but argued that the LHSAA’s decision is “not fair for students.”

In a summarized quote from one RSPB member, they said that some type of action needs to be taken to hold the LHSAA accountable or they will continue to use the students to make money.

RPSB Superintendent Jeff Powell said the LHSAA made a big decision without getting input from all the principals.

“I think there is a strong sense of overreach that a private entity has the ability to make a decision that makes a tremendous impact throughout all of the programmings in a school system, particularly school systems like us,” said Powell. “As what was mentioned tonight, we have to play by their rules if you’re going to play in their league, so they are the only game in town so we have to play in their league.”

Open enrollment has been in place in Rapides Parish for over 10 years with the goal of giving parents the option to send their kids to their school of choice.

Several coaches and principals present at the meeting spoke and commended the board for trying to battle the LHSAA on the “select” school ruling. Northwood-Lena’s principal said under the new definition, the Gators would have to play on the select side despite having just one student attending the school from open enrollment.

The school board’s goal in pursuing legal action is to be able to delay the impact of the LHSAA decision until at least January for the annual convention where all the principals can voice their concerns on the matter.

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