The Delano Joint Union High School District voted Sept. 10 to keep the one-year sit out policy for students who transfer schools within the district, leaving student-athletes disappointed.
The one-year sit out policy was implemented to deter recruiting in athletics within the school district. This policy effects incoming freshman and students wanting to transfer within the district to play sports at their preferred high school. Officials say coaches do not recruit; however, community members say otherwise.
“I had kids come to practice telling me, ‘A coach came to my house to talk to me and my parents about attending that high school,'” said Jorge Gorospe, a youth football coach for the Delano Stallions for the last 22 years. “Whether you want to sit up here and believe it or not, recruitment is real and its happening. If you rather to turn a blind eye to it that’s your choice but it is happening”
The Kern High School District had a similar policy in place but rid of it earlier this year. Now, incoming freshmen that have been granted an open enrollment are immediately eligible to participate in athletics.
Once the board voted, the meeting ended. However, Superintendent Jason Garcia noticed the disappointment in the audience after the board voted to keep the policy. He called Equal Play back to the podium as well as all the school board members to their seats to continue the conversation.
Community members criticized one board member in particular for not following the rule himself.
“You pick and choose who you want to punish and who obeys your policies,” said La Vina Middle School teacher Kim Ruiz.
Gorospe pointed out board member Jesus Cardenas, who lives in the Cesar E. Chavez boundary, has one daughter at Cesar E. Chavez High and another at Delano High.
“Did your son have to stop (playing sports),” Gorospe asked Cardenas.
Cardenas said no.
“You see how this is working it,” asked Gorospe. “It looks like it’s okay for your child but not for these students. It’s not right. You made your decision. I just hope you really know what you’re doing to your students.”
Ruiz also spoke about how this rule is affecting the district.
“Delano High School District is going downhill fast — academically and now athletically — and I’m speaking on behave of my former students because looking into this crowd I can see 12 of these kids,” Ruiz said.
She also criticized Cardenas.
“You know exactly what we’re saying here is right and what you’re doing to these kids who are student-athletes is unfair,” she said. “You know very well your child — both your oldest and now your second child and third — have attended separate schools and never sat out not for a 30-day suspension nor an entire academic school year.”
The appeal to this policy was brought by a young group of student athletes called Equal Play. Equal Play members first spoke out on July 30 and asked the school board to consider ridding of the policy.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.