The high school football season is officially underway. In Roanoke, the season begins with talk of a lawsuit over the school system's tough schedule for football and other sports.
Patrick Henry and William Fleming High Schools are Triple A schools. That means they have to play schools similar in size. As a result, PH and Fleming have to play schools as far away as Danville and Halifax County. That can be four to five hours round trip and the players don't get home until ten, sometimes eleven o'clock at night.
Jonathan Hagins is a football player at William Fleming. He told News 7 "it's pretty tough because you don't want to stay up real late cause you know you have school the next day."
School leaders have pleaded with the Virginia High School League (VHSL) The school board chairman made a presentation to VHSL in the past year. Roanoke City Schools wants to play schools closer to the Roanoke Valley. The school system spends $120,000 transporting student athletes to and from games.
School leaders say they've gotten nowhere with the VHSL. David Carson told News 7 "the response has been we hear ya, but we didn't hear ya, and frankly we don't care about you."
At a joint meeting between Roanoke City Council and the school board, city leaders discussed their options. They are considering filing a lawsuit.
David Carson told News 7 "we recognize the bigger more powerful more numerous Triple A schools and the ones VHSL tends to listen to are in Northern Virginia and Tidewater, an age old problem in this area of Virginia but we wish they would just care about us a little bit."
Carson stresses the school system has yet to decide whether to file a lawsuit.
Here is the statement from Ken Tilley, Virginia High School League Executive Director:
To equalize opportunities in competitive activities sponsored by the League, schools are classified into groups, regions and districts with Redistricting and Reclassification (R&R) occurring every two years. R&R plans are implemented in odd-numbered years. For school classification purposes, membership of a school is determined by September 30 membership figures submitted by each school division to the State Department of Education for grades 9-12.
For example, the R&R Committee (with one representative from each region) will meet and work on a plan during the 2001-12 school year to become effective for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
In accordance with VHSL by-laws, a school may appeal its placement. The R&R Committee evaluates and acts on each appeal first. A school may then appeal the R&R Committee's decision to the VHSL Executive Committee, which then issues a final decision.
Roanoke City schools have been afforded the opportunity to appeal their placement. The R&R Committee and the VHSL membership feel strongly about creating a fair and level playing field in competitive activities based on school enrollments. Having Patrick Henry and William Fleming competing in a lower Group classification would create an unequal playing field and a competitive disadvantage for schools with lower enrollments. Other options could include combination districts, alignment with a closer Group AAA region or even reconfiguration of local school populations and/or facilities.
The Roanoke City Public Schools can certainly provide input for and appeal their placement in any future alignment plan.