By Steve Bittenbender
(The Center Square) – The Kentucky state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that will allow students in grades kindergarten through 12 to retake coursework next year. However, a provision regarding athletic eligibility raised some questions on social media, prompting the bill’s sponsor to quell what he called “misinformation.”
Senate Bill 128 is designed to help students who were hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it would be up to the local public and private school districts to decide whether to allow students the opportunity to supplement their education in the next school year. High school courses that a student retakes will not count toward their graduation credits unless the student failed the course the first time.
The Senate voted 36-0 to move the bill to the House. Two members did not vote.
Senate Education Committee Chair Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, sponsored the bill and said it would help the student who missed out on taking standardized tests for college admission as well as those learning vocations to get hands-on experience.
In addition, it’s “also for those students that just lost out on so many things that many of us probably took for granted and look back on,” he said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
That does include athletics, as a provision of the bill would grant students a fifth year of high school eligibility.
That’s where Wise said later on Twitter the misinformation sprouted. Some on social media referred to the bill as giving high school seniors a blanket year of eligibility.
In response, Wise issued a statement reiterating that Kentucky High School Athletic Association guidelines on age limits and eligibility remain intact. Under KHSAA guidelines, a student is ineligible to play sports if they turn 19 before August 1. Students must also make the request for the extra year at the school or district where they attend as of May 1. Those playing sports will have to retake classes
Still, some supporters said the athletic provision may help student-athletes who could miss out on collegiate opportunities thanks to policies the NCAA has enacted that extend eligibility at the collegiate level.
“There will not be room for some of these seniors coming out of high school on basketball teams,” state Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, said. “So this, should this pass, could very well save the student’s college career.”
Wise said district leaders will be the ones to decide whether their schools offer the program. Those that do must then accept all requests.
State Sen. David Yates, R-Louisville, said that keeping the decision-making process at the community level was one of the provisions he especially liked in the bill.
“I think it’s an important precedent for us to continue to follow, that the best government is local government, and that local government understands what’s best for them,” Yates said on the floor.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.