By Susan Pietras-Smith
At last week’s Colonial Beach School Board meeting, Board member Wayne Kennedy presented an ongoing issue of the softball field lacking lights.
This issue has been ongoing since Title IX was introduced in 1972. The boys’ field, according to Kennedy, has had lights since 1971. The girls’ field has never had them.
Title IX states, in part, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”
In other words, a school cannot give one team better fields, lighting, equipment, uniforms, etc., than the other.
Kennedy stated that the Athletic Director, Steve Swope, did not have a key necessary to turn on the field lights. “Safety was the first concern and liability was the second,” Kennedy said.
Recently, a boys’ baseball game with James Monroe had to be called because of darkness when the James Monroe team had bus issues causing the game to be delayed to 5:30 p.m.
Kennedy stated that it was an embarrassment that Colonial Beach was ahead in the game, yet the game had to be called for darkness.
Board member Michelle Payne responded that the girls’ teams have been embarrassed for years, by some of their games being called, while the boys’ team continued to play. She stated that it comes down to a Title IX issue and that, “We need to get lights for the girls.”
Kennedy stated this never happened during his term as Athletic Director because if the girls’ games were called, they were able to wait until the boys’ games were done and finish their game after the field was reset.
Steve Swope was not present at the meeting to discuss this issue.
For several years there have been complaints about unequal treatment of the girls’ sports. In fact, Kennedy said the light issue had been brought up in the past and started this problem.
This reporter, who attended Colonial Beach Schools in 80s, can remember Title IX issues being discussed due to complaints of girls teams receiving less support, fewer uniform replacement, and less softball field maintenance.
One parent, who requested to remain anonymous, said that she can remember having two girls’ softball games being called during her time playing softball. She said girls’ teams do not see Athletic Director, Steve Swope, at their games the way the boys do.
During closed session the new high school principal was chosen. Andrew Hipple from Rappahannock County High School (RCHS) will start as new principal on July 1. Present principal Clint Runyan has taken a position at Luray High School in Page County. Hipple has worked as principal of RCHS for the past five years and at Rappahannock Elementary School for the two years prior to that.
Hipple will be introduced to the public during of then next school board meetings.
“I am excited and eager to begin a new chapter at Colonial Beach Middle/High School,” he said in an email.
The School Board, upon the request of high school guidance counselor Michelle Wells, agreed to rescind the four year History/Social Science requirement. This requirement was put into place many years ago, but no record of what year could be found. The state requires only three years of History or Social Sciences for graduation. According to Wells, dropping this requirement will allow more flexibility in student course scheduling, as well as allow students to take another elective course. This goes into effect immediately for this year’s graduating class.
The next regular School Board meeting is May 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Center.