N.J. considers opening school sports to vo-tech, charter students

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would require school districts to allow children in vocational and charter schools to participate in the districts’ sports programs.

Supporters of the measure say it’s important to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to participate in sports to learn teamwork and discipline.

“We just want to make sure that a student who’s been playing football or lacrosse or swimming or tennis for many years leading up to high school doesn’t have to make a choice between a career-focused education and the opportunity to continue with the sports,” said Judy Savage, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, testimony before the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.

Others argue it would be better to leave the decision to the local district.

“There may be times when a school district thinks that there are already a number of people participating in sports programs and allowing in allowing in additional students who are not at the school would just displace students who are already participating in the program,” says Steve Goodell, general counsel for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The New Jersey School Boards Association questioned who would pay for the costs of transporting the vo-tech and charter school students to sporting events.

Assembly Higher Education Committee chairman Pat Diegnan, D-Middlesex, says the bill will have to be amended to address those concerns.

The committee advanced the measure Monday. It has not been introduced yet in the Senate.

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