By CHRIS HOBBS
RALEIGH — A new N.C. Senate Bill (SB 52) was filed on Tuesday, and it would make the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) subject to the state’s opening meetings law.
If passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D), the bill would hopefully bring more transparency to the day-to-day operations and more specific, detailed information on actions taken by the NCHSAA and its staff.
In March, the NCHSAA entered into a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) that, in effect, left the NCHSAA staff in place. Had that agreement not been reached, the NCDPI planned to replace and or restructure the NCHSAA in March.
Although it is not a printed directive from the NCHSAA’s Board of Directors, here is how a media inquiry about an NCHSAA rule or punishment has been — and to this date — remains handled (although the MOU took away the NCHSAA’s ability to penalize a school via a fine and most of its other powerful in-house policies).
To begin an inquiry of the NCHSAA, media would e-mail or call the appropriate NCHSAA official to seek confirmation that school A violated a rule, asking where to obtain a copy of the rule to read and if school A is in violation and, if true, what would be the penalty, if any.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker says her choice is and has been to return the inquiring media to the school(s) involved. The NCHSAA will not confirm or deny a violation or generally discuss any of its rules and applications when talking about a specific school or schools.
The rub is that school is a public entity, financed by public monies, and subject to open meeting and public records laws, so the school itself (or school system) must release information to the media if asked (other than names, etc., that are protected by privacy laws).
In other instances, a school system must provide — to anyone, not just the media — the names, position, salary and years of service for anyone being paid money from the state or local school system.
For the NCHSAA to indicate, say, rule No. 111 was violated or a policy is this or that and it involved eight football players would not violate privacy laws.
Tucker has previously said the NCHSAA office will not be involved with release of information about individual schools. When North Lincoln, for example, opted out of the state football playoffs, the NCHSAA bracket did not indicate the Knights were not playing and the school did not clarify whether it was playing or not — and why — for several days.
The bill introduced on Tuesday will also review a proposed amendment to an NCHSAA appeals process and ask those cases get a final ruling from the NCDPI.
HIGH SCHOOL OT STORY: https://www.highschoolot.com/senate-passes-bill-requiring-nchsaa-to-hold-open-meetings-amends-appeals-process/20751829/