Board changes KHSAA policy

Under pressure from lawmakers, the Kentucky Board of Education agreed Wednesday to change a controversial KHSAA policy regarding court orders.

The move means that high school officials no longer have to be afraid of penalties or warnings from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association when they allow athletes to compete because of a judge's order.

"It will ensure that the KHSAA operates under the law like every other agency and person in the United States," said Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine.

Most of the rulings involve the athletic association's transfer rule, which says that a student athlete cannot compete for one year after changing schools, except under specific conditions.

Currently, when a parent challenges a ruling about a student's right to play and the court issues an order that reverses a KHSAA ruling, the association warns school officials that they could face fines, suspension of the coach or forfeiture of games if the judge's ruling is ultimately overturned.

The state school board decision followed a meeting Tuesday in Frankfort in which several lawmakers chided KHSAA officials for warning school officials against following court orders. Members of the legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee, which approves the association's bylaws, told officials that they thought the policy was unconstitutional and to get rid of it.

Stine, R-Southgate, had unsuccessfully tried to get a bill passed in the 2009 General Assembly to change the KHSAA's stance on the court rulings.

Specifically, the state board of education is changing the policy to say that students and school officials cannot be punished or sanctioned by the KHSAA if a student competes and practices because a court order permits it, said state school board spokeswoman Lisa Gross.

The school board, which oversees the KHSAA, had to approve the policy change before it could be implemented.

KHSAA spokesman Elden May said that a committee of the association's board of control met Wednesday and also agreed with the change.

Rep. Bob Damron, D- Nicholasville, wrote the amendment to the KHSAA policy that the state school board accepted. On Wednesday, Damron commended the two education groups for agreeing to make the change.

The KHSAA, Damron said, should not have the power "to thumb their nose at the judiciary."