|Lenoir City considers snow change
After violating its own policy on emergency closings the week of Jan. 15-19, Lenoir City Schools is considering making a policy change.
According to Lenoir City Board of Education policy 1.8011, “If school is not in session or is dismissed early due to snow or inclement weather, all scheduled activities in which students are involved will be postponed or cancelled.”
Lenoir City High School’s basketball teams played Maryville High School at home Jan. 19 despite school being cancelled due to icy road conditions. Teams were also allowed to hold voluntary practices during the week, Jeanne Barker, school superintendent, said.
Questions about the school’s policy on snow days and athletics were raised Thursday during a BOE discussion about changes to policy 4.301 on interscholastic athletics. The change adds language stating students cannot be forced to attend an athletic event on an official school holiday, observed day of worship or religious holiday.
“The policy that we have that if you’re out of school that day because of weather that you cannot play in an athletic event that night, do you remember how that came about or how long that’s been?” Glenn McNish, school board member, asked during the meeting. “I’ve asked everybody, and nobody seems to know where it came from or what.”
Barker was unfamiliar with the policy when questioned by McNish, saying school leadership relies on “common sense.”
“I think it has been practiced, but once again, you have to divorce common sense from something that has been written for no reason,” Barker said. “... If there is no reason not to go ahead and have an event (we will continue as scheduled).”
The current emergency closings policy was put in place Nov. 9, 2004, with a descriptor added July 10, 2012. The policy is scheduled for annual review in September.
“I think a lot of things change over time,” Barker said. “That might have been extremely appropriate at that time. We’re now in a situation where (Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association) has made some decisions that limit our time. The season will end on a certain time and the conference has to go on. Many times there’s not enough dates to make up missed ball games. We ran into that last year with the fear of having to forfeit a game.”
According to TSSAA’s basketball calendar, there is no definite date for the end of the regular season. District tournaments must be completed by Feb. 21, but it is up to each district to set a start date for the tournaments. Dates for the region tournaments, sectionals and state tournaments are set more strictly by TSSAA.
After the board was informed during Thursday’s meeting of the language of the policy by Jeanie Mowery, business manager, and Sheila Herron, administrative assistant, Barker confirmed the policy had been violated.
Chip Orr, LCHS principal, said he was familiar with the practice of cancelling all school-related activities since it had come into play during his time at Lenoir City Intermediate/Middle School when middle school basketball teams were not allowed to play in a tournament game.
“We adhered to it pretty strictly years ago,” Orr said. “... It does paint you into a corner, the policy that we’ve got. I didn’t know it was a policy. But I think we’ve always used common sense given the fact that there are other school systems involved.”
Orr pointed to Maryville City Schools being in session Friday as a reason for holding the game despite Lenoir City being the home team. In 2015, a district tournament game for Lenoir City played at Maryville High School was cancelled when Knox County schools would not play while schools were out for inclement weather.
“That decision is not just us making the call,” Orr said.
A revised policy to allow for school events to continue at the discretion of the school superintendent when schools are closed to due weather will be presented to the BOE at the February workshop.