Athletes now have more flexibility to transfer to North Bay Haven Charter Academy (NBHCA) to play fall sports. A policy passed by Bay Haven Charter Academy’s Board of Directors in November still stands but will now have more details included to address concerns brought forward by Bay District Schools (BDS).
Because NBHCA is a charter school, admission is limited. Students must submit their names via a lottery system in the spring. The admission list is randomly selected by computer software monitored by a local certified public accounting firm. “There is always quite a bit of shuffling that happens in the first week or two of each school year as high schoolers decide which school is the right choice for them,” said Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc. Chief Education Officer Larry Bolinger. “Transferring to NBHCA can be a tough decision especially for student athletes.”
Under Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) rules, any student athlete who practices a sport just one day, is considered ineligible to play the sport if they transfer to another high school that season. “The FHSAA fall season often begins a few weeks before school starts,” said Bolinger. “If a student athlete began practicing at another school but then got the call that a spot at North Bay Haven was available, they could transfer, but would have to sit out the season. We did not think this was fair. We recently determined that FHSAA allows us as a charter school to address this unique issue in a Good Cause Policy.”
While the issue has only affected two student athlete transfers in recent years, the Bay Haven Board of Directors developed and passed a Good Cause Policy in November allowing student athletes to transfer to the school even if they had begun playing sports at another school. Two months later, without any other communication between BDS leadership or any discussion among BDS board members, the District athletic director sent NBHCA a letter saying the school would no longer be included as part of the BDS athletic program and may not participate in any BDS annual meets, championship tournaments, or all-star selection programs.
“We were certainly caught off guard,” said NBHCA Athletic Director Dustin Rennspies. “Perhaps the District assumed we would let student athletes transfer and play any time in the season? That was not our intention and is not feasible at NBHCA. We are on a block schedule. Classes are 80 minutes long. Students who miss too much time in the beginning of the school year cannot make up the time and will not succeed academically.”
NBHCA met with BDS School Superintendent Bill Husfelt this week and reached an agreement to update the NBHCA Good Cause Policy to include a requirement that student athletes must enroll within the first 10 school days of the fall semester. “This was our intention all along and it is great news for student athletes who want to transfer to NBHCA,” said Bolinger. “It’s unfortunate that a lack of communication led to misunderstandings, but we appreciate Mr. Husfelt’s willingness to work with us. We’re thrilled the charter school lottery system, and last-minute enrollment offers to students, won’t limit their ability to play sports.”