Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Open Enrollment on the Way?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Open Enrollment on the Way?

Article excerpt

A heated argument has broken out over the rise of high school transfers, and state officials are studying the idea of adopting an open enrollment policy for all students.

In Utah.

Meanwhile, in my home state of Louisiana, one of the flagship high school football programs, John Curtis Christian, had to forfeit a 2013 state title and victories for three seasons because standout offensive lineman Willie Allen was living with an assistant coach while attending the school.

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association project manager Mike Zapicchi has a Google alert set up to keep up on all these issues facing high school sports in the United States.

It's his job to try to fix these same issues in New Jersey.

"Transfers are in the news everywhere," Zapicchi said. "I don't get tired of talking about it, because it's still a problem."

As head of the NJSIAA's public/non-public committee, Zapicchi spearheaded multiple initiatives last year that led to major changes in the way New Jersey runs high school sports.

Of course it's complicated, because the new formats for football and wrestling separation were passed by the general membership last December, then overturned by then New Jersey Commissioner of Education David Hespe.

That led to the creation of the North Jersey Super Football Conference, and last month the NJSIAA passed a sweeping change in the way it aligns its wrestling regions and districts. Indirectly, the father of both is Zapicchi.

However, one thing that didn't pass was a new policy on transfers.

That can be attributed to many factors. One might be that the proposed guidelines were a bit convoluted. Second might be that most of the NJSIAA members are indifferent to the problem. Third, does the NJSIAA really want to get involved in telling students where they can and can't go to school? Open enrollment, which allows a student to go to any school, anywhere, may be the only answer in the long run.

"If you think about it, choice [schools], charter [schools], tuition [schools] are all viable ways to change where kids go on the basis of their academic likes, dislikes, needs and wants," Zapicchi said. …

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