Students who currently have lower than a 2.5 or 2.0 GPA—or have reported behavioral issues—may be prohibited from participating in school clubs, athletics, and other extracurricular activities.
Trustees with the Capistrano Unified School District are exploring a proposal to remove that barrier, which would allow underperforming students to participate in clubs and activities outside the classroom so could feel more connected to their schools and communities.
Trustee Gila Jones brought forth a request to revise the district’s policy on extracurricular admission standards, which went through a first hearing on Wednesday, April 19. District staff and trustees will work out exact details on the new policy, which will come back before the Board of Trustees for final approval.
“The idea of withholding participation in pleasurable activities from those who have poor attitudes represents an antiquated and flawed understanding of human motivation,” Jones said. “Of our students who have been expelled and have long discipline records, what percentage are involved in school or community activities? I don’t know for sure but probably not many.”
“How does restricting students with low grades from participating in school activities make them happy? How does it motivate them to get better grades?” Jones said. “How does it motivate them to want to come to school? I don’t believe it does. I believe students with low grades are precisely the ones who need to be encouraged to participate in activities.”
Trustee Michael Parham said encouraging children is a better approach with kids instead of punishing them. He told stories of academically underperforming kids he knew growing up who either felt a lack of purpose after not being allowed to continue playing school sports or who felt they belonged after being permitted to play in the school band.
Trustee Amy Hanacek said a 2.0 GPA is “not hard to get” and having a student in a student government organization doesn’t help if they don’t end up graduating.
“First and foremost, we’ve got to have young people graduating able to read, to do basic math, and to be able to go out in the world and feel well about themselves,” Hanacek said.
Some underperforming students don’t go to school and may not be drawn to extracurricular activities, Hanacek said.
“There are ways to capture students and make them feel connected,” Hanacek said. “We need to start sooner with our elementary school kids that know there’s a seat at the table for them.”
Trustee Judy Bullockus said some students may not be able to make high grades but possess some other talent.
“I don’t think we have teachers that will start letting kids with just a 1.0 come hang out and fill the seats,” Bullockus said. “I think our teachers are good enough to be discerning about giving that student a break because (they) see it within them but might need to be the one to pull it out of them.”
In other CUSD news, a request by Trustee Lisa Davis to explore alternatives to the California Healthy Kids Survey—which asks students about aspects of their life and health, including drug use and mental health—was tabled to a September meeting.