Transfer situation with national qualifier spurs recommendation for IRSD policy review

GEORGETOWN — An unusual situation involving a former Indian River School District student who qualified for a national competition is spurring a call for district policy review.

IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said the situation involves a student from one of IRSD’s middle schools who competed in a competition in FFA at the eighth-grade level and this summer her project qualified her for the FFA Nationals.

“However, the student transferred to Sussex Tech as a ninth grader. The nationals occur in October, which means that the student will no longer be our student,” Mr. Steele said at the Aug. 28 board of education meeting. “My suggestion at this particular point is that we do not participate in chaperoning or sending the student to nationals. We would leave that up to Sussex Technical High School.”

Mr. Steele said the Indian River district checked with the state Department of Education. “We are not obligated to send the student, or to chaperone the student when the student goes. The parents would take the student,” he said. “We did verify that. I talked to the parents (Aug. 28).”

A major concern is liability.

“I think we need to take a look at this because there is I think a litigation side of it. If we send that student with our chaperones for example — if we send them either with our Indian River team or Sussex Central — if anything were to happen, that could come back on us and those people, technically,” said Mr. Steele. “I think this is something we are going to have to take a look at, at our policy meeting.”

Mr. Steele is suggesting that revision in IRSD district’s student field trip policies state that “any student in eighth grade who is part of an FFA program and has the opportunity to go to nationals would have to remain in our district in order to go as a ninth grader.”

The FFA nationals are a little different than other school organizations.

“The FFA, you qualify the year before you actually go to the nationals. Qualification is usually in the spring or during the summer at the fair. The nationals don’t occur until the October of the next (school) year. Also … we have seniors who qualify for nationals, and this happens quite frequently in FFA who actually graduate in June but come back in October to go to the national competition. Those students, however, have progressed and graduated from the Indian River School District.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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