With a large student population, La Joya Independent School District has recently moved to keep the focus on those actually enrolled at LJISD.
At a special called board meeting this week, the trustees carried a motion that will not allow students from IDEA and other charter schools to participate in the extracurricular activities of the La Joya school district.
The motion was passed after a discussion during the meeting by the district Superintendent, Dr. Alda Benavides, and Athletic Director Alex Guajardo. Two members of the board also spoke about the matter.
“Both Coach Guajardo, our athletic director, and myself have gotten questions about if we will allow students who reside in our district but are attending other schools to participate in extracurricular activities,” Benavides said. “And we’ve discussed it at length. We have our reasons why they will not be allowed to participate.”
Guajardo elaborated on the subject, and also said that he has been approached by parents of kids who want to play in La Joya’s athletic programs.
“The students live within our attendance zone, but they choose to go to charter schools,” Guajardo said. “With that I called UIL [the University Interscholastic League] and I requested some information.”
Guajardo continued and said that UIL allows students from charter schools to participate in extracurricular activities as long as the students live within the district’s attendance zone.
“IDEA schools are not allowed since they are distinguished as part of the 3A classification,” Guajardo said. “I have also called other school districts in the region, and most of them say no to this practice, the reason being that they don’t want to carry the liability that comes with that.”
If IDEA or charter schools were allowed to participate and play for La Joya ISD, they will not be covered by insurance because they would not be the district’s students, and therefore transportation and liability becomes an issue.
“My professional opinion is that if they want to play sports with us, they can always come back to our district,” Guajardo said. “They can play with us. We have a great school district.”
Benavides said that although they would like all students within the community to participate in La Joya’s activities, and that they understand the importance of these activities, an IDEA or other charter school student would potentially take the position from an actual student of the school district of La Joya.
“Last night, watching the Huskies play basketball, it’s only five members that get to play at one time,” Benavides said. “That would mean if we allow one of those students that is not in our schools, it’s going to be taking the spot from our kids.”
Recently, at a recruiting event promoting the district as a choice for students, “Why La Joya ISD,” a recruiting bus from IDEA schools was seen parked in the parking lot of the LJISD event. The vice president of the school board, Armin Garza, also spoke on the subject.
“I feel if they’re entrusting us in their education, the parents and students in La Joya ISD, they shouldn’t take a backseat to anyone,” Garza said. “If people want to be able to participate in our athletic programs, they should, as Coach Guajardo said, they should take part of everything we have to offer at La Joya ISD.”
School board President Oscar Salinas also agreed with Benavides, Guajardo, and Garza.
“I think at the end we want the best for all kids,” Salinas said. “But, you know, right now, with the liability of travelling, and taking space from our kids, like you said, if they want to play sports with us they can come back to our schools.”