Not a decision for the principal alone to make


To the Editor:

As the grandparent of two Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School students, I would like to respond to the recent article on athletics at the Regional High School.

Let us remember that we live on an Island, and that makes certain situations unique. There are many ways our towns cooperate and act collectively for the public good.

The Charter School is a public school. Its students take the same standardized tests, etc., as the regional students do. Charter School parents pay taxes, some of which go to the Regional High School. The question is whether one or two charter school students can compete on the high school teams or whether they have to forego completely the athletic experience in high school.

In fact, cooperation crossovers already exist. Teachers from all the Island schools cooperate in many educational areas. Adult Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE/MV) has happily been allowed to use the facilities of both the high school and the Charter School. Charter School students have sung with the Minnesingers and participated in dramatic productions.

Regional high school principal Steve Nixon stated the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) would not support a cooperative arrangement between the two schools, but possibly he is mistaken. While no official criteria or eligibility yet exists for Charter Schools, the MIAA does allow for arrangements between large and small schools.

Mr. Nixon cited difficulties like transportation and “disciplinary control.” But surely this could be solved if the will – the good will – existed.

Perry Ambulos of Chilmark remarked at one meeting that he would like to see an individual child have the opportunity to play, “provided there is room on the team.” Without equality of opportunity, it is unlikely a charter student would be included. How would there be an extra spot unless one was set aside, and in that case would a charter kid have to have a special or individual audition? Obviously, a charter student should be allowed to try out with everyone else. If the student made the grade — coming after all, from a school that doesn’t have a gym — then the regional team would indeed be fortunate to have him or her. (I am assuming students try out, if teams can only be a certain size.)

I hope this issue will be discussed within our Island-wide community. Speaking only for my household, I do not agree this matter is “strictly” Mr. Nixon’s call. I think in the name of fairness, a broader consensus is needed.

A challenging situation will soon arise. Two Charter School students have been on the YMCA swim team for the last two years. Next year, the team is slated to become a high school sanctioned team. Does this mean the Charter School swimmers will be bounced off the team for geographical reasons?

Some very few athletes choose to continue their public education in the smaller environment of the Charter School. They should not be punished, nor should the regional high school allow itself to give the appearance of exclusivity.

Susan Strave