07/1/13 – Update on Middle School Regulation
As the amendments to 702 KAR 7:065 work their way through the administrative review process, I/we have been asked to hold off in any communication that could be considered final as well as development of additional material until the regulation is approved in final form, partly to ensure that we send a consistent message. However, it seems timely to update you on the progress of these changes, particularly with the changes proposed related to Middle School Athletics. As you are aware, the genesis of these changes was a study commissioned by the legislature in 2012, with findings reported to the Kentucky Board of Education for implementation through the Kentucky Department of Education.
Status of Regulation
At its June meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education approved several technical amendments that were suggested by KBE and KHSAA staff to ensure clarity following a significant amount of feedback from Superintendents, Principals and the public at large. Those changes, and other clarifications made so far during the process include:
- The complete text of the regulation is contained in Section 3 of the regulation. The current draft of the regulation can be viewed at http://education.ky.gov/districts/legal/Documents/702%20KAR%207065%20final.doc, with details about the process at http://education.ky.gov/districts/legal/Pages/KDE-Public-Hearing-Information.aspx
- The entire section related to middle school is now clarified for implementation with the 2014-2015 school year and as has been planned all along, includes a grandfathering period to additional restrictive statewide restrictions;
- The questions related to the phase-in of middle school regulations regarding playing up and playing while repeating were clarified.
Middle School Coaching Qualification Update
Since the announcement of the draft regulation, several questions have been received regarding the requirements for middle school coaches. We have had several questions about the requirement for coaches to be 21 years of age and other requirements.
- Faculty coaches have to meet local district requirements for being on the faculty.
- KRS 161.185 already contains the definition of a non-faculty coach and specifies that “A nonfaculty coach or nonfaculty assistant shall be at least twenty-one (21) years of age, shall not be a violent offender or convicted of a sex crime as defined by KRS 17.165 which is classified as a felony, and shall submit to a criminal record check under KRS 160.380.” So whether or not the regulation change occurs asking the KHSAA to be responsible for middle schools, middle school non faculty coaches must be 21 years of age.
- In addition, there were requirements in the regulation regarding high school graduation. It will continue to be a local district option as to whether or not a GED applies for positions where high school graduation is required. In many districts, they are allowing a GED to count for graduation where graduation is required, and this would remain a local decision.
KHSAA Coaching Registry for Online Safety Course
Several schools have inquired about the KHSAA expanding its online registry of coaches to include middle school coaches in order to monitor various requirements. This is part of the work that will be done during 2013-2014 if and only if, the regulation becomes effective. Individual coaches are already able to produce completion certificates for the 8-module sports safety course and provide that documentation to their middle school Principal to verify compliance.
Applicability of Other Rules (i.e. transfer, dead period, academics, etc.)
Several questions have been submitted regarding a dead period for middle school sports, a transfer rule and restriction, academic requirements, etc. These types of provisions have never been discussed throughout this process and nothing is being contemplated. The key to the entire regulatory process is that there is to be a Middle School Committee developed, and that committee then needs to decide the shape of future regulations in conjunction with the Kentucky Board of Education. It may be that in the future, there are more statewide rules on middle school play, but if that is the case, it will be at the initiative of the Middle School Committee as confirmed by the middle schools, not as part of any change being discussed or contemplated at this time.
Keep one additional fact in mind. Contrary to some news accounts and unverified information that has been published, the KHSAA has not sought out this responsibility. The entire project began with discussion about safety of students, and the fact that there were the following differences between high school competition and middle school competition.
High school athletics had a plethora of health and safety based regulations, NONE of which exist at the middle school level, including:
- A requirement for adherence to a heat index monitoring program (there were reports of high school activities being halted at locations where middle school activities at adjacent facilities continued, etc.)
- A requirement for safe monitored weight reduction in wrestling;
- Requirements regarding the management of concussions in sports;
- A limitation on how many weeks of practice and play is allowed in each sport; and
- A limitation on the number of games is allowed in each sport.
There was also a discussion about the need for basic eligibility rules to ensure equal competition and rotect the students, but an overwhelming feeling that these issues needed to be decided at the local level, including:
- The development of an age rule/limitation;
- Limitations and guidance on students playing on middle school teams while enrolled below grade six (6); and
- Other practice, scrimmage and game limitations.
Other issues addressed involved the accountability for school funds that were being spent to participated in the events sponsored by outside entities. While there is NO MENTION of championship play at the middle school level, there was recognition that there were very successful events already underway that benefited the students, but the feedback from the school systems was that many of these events were not being conducted in a transparent manner by the organizing groups. That was the reason that basic simple requirements were put into the regulation regarding accountability for those groups, disclosure of tax status and profit/loss information, and the posting of such information. Coupled with more than a year worth of work revising the rules for the expenditure of School Activity Funds (the Redbook revisions), this new layer of accountability is of benefit to the schools and school systems of the Commonwealth.
When the Task Force completed its work, the legislative members began discussion and suggestions involving the KHSAA handling these responsibilities. This discussion and Kentucky Board of Education action led to the place we stand today. The KHSAA stands ready to assist in this important project for the protection of the student-athletes of the state, but will continue to exist whether or not this responsibility is added. The KHSAA did not, nor did its employees, actively seek additional duties and requirements, but the KHSAA staff does stand ready to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth if and when called on to do so in this important area.