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EVSC Extracurriculars and Virtual Learning

A parent and his attorney have sent a legal demand letter to the superintendent over the issue of virtual learning students participating in extracurricular activities.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 9:25 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2020 11:14 AM

Only on 44News, a parent is willing to take legal action to keep his varsity athlete and others in the action.

A move to the EVSC Virtual Academy is blurring the eligibility line, which could bench some students.

You can see the love Brian Bennett has for his son, in the smile on his face.

"He's going into his sophomore season--sophomore year at North. Straight-A student, great athlete. I have no complaints as a father about anything about him," he shared.

But to keep his son Sean--who has asthma--safe during the pandemic, his family has opted to have him stay at home this year and takle lesson online as part of EVSC's Virtual Academy.

But according to Bennett, his attorney Brandon Danks, and guidelines currently posted on the Virtual Academy web page, that means no extracurriculars.

No varsity year for Sean.

And potentially a permanent impact on his future in football.

"He's been practicing with the team. He wears a mask underneath his helmet. He wears long sleeves. Anything to stay as safe as humanly possible," Bennett listed. "That's where the EVSC is saying, 'If you want to play sports, you have to be around 1,500 students in an enclosed environment. If not, you can't play sports.'"

That prompted Bennett to send a legal demand letter to the superintendent to make a change.

"Essentially, what it was was to bring to his attention the effect of this new EVSC policy, that is going to prevent all these students that want to minimize their risk of exposure to COVID. Anyone who opts to do this Virtual Academy will not have the option to do sports."

Under Indiana High School Athletic Association redefinitions released July 16th, a student-athlete learning online in classes taught by "member school personnel...can attend 100% of the day virtually and still participate in education based athletics."

But it then goes on to say ---

"A school may still require in building attendance for athletic participation."

Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation's general legal counsel told 44News he is not aware of any particular EVSC rule at this time that mandates the in-person attendance.

"In the past, any child who attended a virtual school had to complete at least a semester before they became eligible," explained legal counselor Patrick Shoulders.

The attorney adds, they'll follow the most up to date Indiana High School Athletic Association eligibility rules:

"As amended or updated by the COVID emergency requirements. We don't choose any child for special treatment, nor do we discriminate against any child. We provide them equal opportunities within the bounds of the law."

But it seems there is still a lot of confusion on exactly where the Virtual Academy itself falls under IHSAA.

Tonight Bennett and his son are waiting for a legal response from the district.

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