Sacred Heart questions sports policy


A recent policy change that prohibits private and home-schooled students from participating in Miles City Public School District athletic programs is being challenged by Sacred Heart School.

Reading from a letter addressed to the Unified Board of Trustees at Monday’s monthly meeting, Sacred Heart Principal Bart Freese outlined his school’s long-time affiliation with Washington Middle School.

“Our students have been participating in the sports programs at WMS for many years,” Freese read. “Until this last month, we have been allowed to participate if there was not a team available at Sacred Heart. Our children and our families have enjoyed this and have appreciated this cooperation for well over a decade. We believe this agreement is mutually beneficial for all the students in our community, as it has contributed to the development of a strong peer group among them as they transition to high school together.”

Superintendent Keith Campbell said the policy change was made under the advice of the Montana School Boards Association.

“We were looking at the policy because we had denied participation to home-schooled kids,” Campbell said. “The policy also applied to private school students as well. When the policy came for revision, the board accepted it. And our attorneys say that we should not differentiate between public and non-public students. It’s OK to let home-schooled and private schools participate, but it wouldn’t be OK to let one and not the other.”

Campbell said the board will take another look at the policy and consider whether it should be revised further.

“The board really has two things to consider,” he said. “One, whether to revise the policy or not, and two, when to do that. It’s not a home-school or private school issue; it’s a policy issue. Do we want our policy to be all-inclusive, or do we want our policy to limit participation between public and non-public? If the board reconsiders that and changes policy, we’ll change those procedures. 

“From what I can tell, there has never been a behavior issue with the Sacred Heart students, and the board will certainly consider that.”

Also on the agenda was the expulsion of a student at Custer County District High School. The student in question was found with a hunting rifle in his or her vehicle, and the board voted for expulsion without a defined timeline.

“That means that the student can request to be re-enrolled at a later time,” Campbell said. “Any time a student comes before the board for expulsion it’s a sad thing. You just hope the student learns from it and can bounce back. It’s eastern Montana and it’s hunting season, and the student just made a mistake. In my mind, the student didn’t have any intent to do harm or anything malicious. But the policy is zero-tolerance, and there are consequences.”

Under staffing, new hires ratified in the Elementary School District include Sarah Melchior-Substitute teacher, Helaina Miller-Substitute teacher, Allison Becker-Substitute teacher.

Resignations/Terminations – Elementary SD#1 District: Michelle Seal-Special Ed Aide, Cody Kelly-WMS football coach, Vonnie Horan-WMS Special Ed Aide.

New hires ratified – High School District: Allison Becker-Substitute teacher, Sarah Melchior-Substitute teacher, Kyle Pryor Assistant H.S. wrestling coach.