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Third Grade Volleyball Spiked

School defends academics as reason for the cut

Two student athletes kicked off a team because of low grades. We’ve heard that story a million times.

The only difference in a new case is that the student athletes are 8 years old and JUST in the third grade.

The girls’ academic ineligibility was based on the grades they had received over the past six weeks, which were, coincidentally, the first six weeks of their academic careers.

That’s right. Two 8-year-old girls, enrolled at St. Martin of Tours in Los Angeles, California, a private Catholic school, found themselves unceremoniously dumped from their volleyball squad with just two games to go in the season.

Since the team had seven girls, and six are needed to play, the team ceased to exist from an official standpoint.

Which led to oceans of tears from the little girls, and outrage from parents.

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The team practiced for one hour per week and played other schools on a weekly basis.

The girls’ academic ineligibility, furthermore, was based on the grades they had received over the past six weeks, which were, coincidentally, the first six weeks of their academic careers in which they had received any form of grades.

“It’s just nuts,” said a mother of one of the little girls whose team had been taken away.

“When we went to the principal, he told us that basically the rules were the rules. He said that he had coached a team of older kids earlier in his career, and that academically ineligible kids had to be kicked off the team. His position was that everybody had to play by the same rules.”

“But third graders? Really?”

“But third graders? Really?” she asked.

Kevin Baxter, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, defended the policy, explaining the purpose was not to punish the girls, but to convey the message that academics always come first.

If an exception were made in the case of the volleyball team, Baxter said, the ability of the principal to make other decisions regarding academics, grades, and participation in extracurricular activities would be “null and void.”

Baxter also said the reason the school and others in the system were so effective at educating young people and sending them on to college was the fact that academics always take precedence over nonacademic matters.

He also pointed out that although the third graders may not have received a formal report card prior to this school year, their academic performance had been monitored consistently since kindergarten.

The schools in the archdiocese are constantly reviewing policies to improve the manner in which things are run, Baxter said, but the decision regarding the volleyball team would not be reconsidered this school year.

“The girls on the team certainly learned a lesson,” the parent said. “But it may not be the lesson the school intended.”

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