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Fauquier County plans to ‘put teeth’ in sports transfer policy with Monday vote

Wednesday, Feb. 5 | By Jeff Malmgren

FCPS superintendent of schools Dr. David Jeck
The Fauquier County Public Schools school board will vote Monday on a proposal to revise the policy on transfer students to better reflect the requirements in the Virginia High School League handbook.

Although FCPS already uses VHSL guidelines to determine athletic eligibility of transfer students, the VHSL requirements are not explicitly stated in county policy.H

"This will eliminate that confusion," FCPS superintendent of schools Dr. David Jeck said of the proposed rule update. "It is a powerful policy."

Most importantly, Jeck said, the revised county policy would put emphasis on a transfer student proving he or she has a bona fide new residence in the county and the student's entire family has vacated the previous residence with the intent of moving permanently.

The old residence must be “sold, rented or disposed of as a residence,” according to the VHSL handbook. The family would also be required to remove household goods from the old residence.

"It puts added teeth into the policy,” Jeck said. “The VHSL policy was much more restrictive than our policy."

The county already requires those VHSL stipulations, but they are not explicitly stated in the county policy.

"In some instances, when a student moved from one school to another, they might conclude that they're doing everything above board [based on] the county policy, not taking into account the VHSL policy," said Jeck. "If I'm not reading the VHSL policy ... it would be very easy to make a mistake and be deemed ineligible."

Athletic transfers can be a hot button topic.

FCPS received a complaint this past September alleging an illegal transfer by a high school student athlete. Assistant superintendent for student services Frank Finn headed an investigation that found no proof of a violation.

“Some of the issues that have come up over the last few years – these things kept coming up and being highlighted in the media,” Finn said. “We thought it necessary to” add references to the VHSL policy into the county policy.

Finn said over the years FCPS has occasionally adjusted its transfer policy.

“In 2008, when I came here, all it required was upon initial enrollment you have to provide documentation that you live here,” he said. “I thought that was insufficient. ... If you enrolled in kindergarten [within the school system], then you could go all the way to your senior year with nobody checking if you still lived here.

“The policy was lax and people were easily getting over on that and that was an issue we were seeing," Finn said.

School board members will vote on the proposed updated policy at their meeting Monday.

"It's something the school board is very interested in pursuing,” Jeck said. “So I suspect it’s going to be approved.”

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