Mattituck-Cutchogue school board questions allowing jr. high students to play HS sports

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Mattituck-Cutchogue school board president Jerry Diffley and Superintendent James McKenna at Thursday's board meetin

After months of concern from parents and board members, the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District plans to reconsider supporting a state policy that allows junior high school athletes to play at the high school level.

Parent Patty Shuford of Laurel questioned the practice at a school board meeting Thursday night.

“Anyone I’ve spoken to who is a parent is telling me they don’t believe this is a good practice,” she said. “Who are we serving when we do this?… We’re not doing this at the academic level, only sports.”

This fall, eight junior high students at Mattituck met strict state requirements in terms of physical and psychological maturity, good grades and athletic talent to play at the high school level, though one student later decided not to play at the high school level.

Board members and parents at the time said they were concerned that young students were being pushed too far, while older students would receive less playing time than in the past.

“The children that are on the sports teams in high school are not getting playing time. I know its happened because I’ve been approached again and again,” said board member Jeff Smith, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the policy, at Thursday’s meeting.

“It is prevalent. I feel like this past year the names were coming up like never before,” said board member Janique Nine. “Today we have little uber-children. They do things athletically that we didn’t do. Maybe these students are reaching a level that I can’t comprehend. For record, I’m not pleased about it either.”

“The board has been divided on this issue. It’s something we are keenly aware of,” said board member Douglas Cooper.
The district has already accepted the state’s “selection classification” guidelines, but the board unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to re-evaluate its support at next year’s reorganization meeting in July.

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