SUNBURY — Big Walnut Local Schools will remain a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association for the 2022-2023 school year, a week after the district’s Board of Education expressed concerns with the organization’s policies.
The resolution was the first matter of business at Wednesday’s board meeting. Earlier that afternoon, hundreds of Big Walnut High School students walked out of classes in support of staying in the OHSAA, with the permission of their teachers and Principal Andy Jados. They stood under the American flag, heard and applauded speeches, held signs and a rainbow flag. After about 10 minutes, they returned to their classes.
During Wednesday’s meeting, board member Alice Nicks said a lot of her concerns were answered by a letter from OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute dated April 21. The letter did not get to the assistant superintendent in time to present it to the board at its April 21 meeting.
“Yes, it would have cleared up a lot,” said Board President Doug Crowl. The board then unanimously voted to remain in the OHSAA.
Previously on April 21, more than three hours into a six-plus-hour meeting, a resolution authorizing the 2022/2023 membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association was read, moved by board member Stephen Fujii and seconded by board member Sherri Dorsch.
Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper said the membership was due June 30.
Nicks said she had information about OHSAA guidelines for transgender participation. She said she wanted to protect a family member “from any issue that might involve a transgender coming into the dressing room and causing great stress and fear.”
“I really don’t know what to say,” Dorsch said. “I don’t have any concerns with OHSAA.”
“I do have concerns for the female athletes that might be playing,” board member Angela Graziosi said. “We all know what’s going on in society and what’s happening in swimming, and I think it’s taking away everything we fought for our daughters for sports to have a level playing field, to get out and be able to look at scholarships and things like that, so I have some strong concerns about this, and if you have questions about what they’re pushing, that’s what the whole eight hours was about in the equity and belonging quest, the gender unicorn, it goes on and on (referring to a OHSAA meeting held earlier in the month). So, we really need to know as a board, as a school district, what we’re getting into and what we’re accepting with the OHSAA membership.”
Fujii said he didn’t see anything about males being on the girls’ swim team in the resolution.
“So, are we talking in April about not joining the OHSAA next year?” Fujii said, scratching his head. “Oh, and help me, we’re going to hire a superintendent sometime this year.”
Crowl made a motion to postpone acting on the resolution until the next meeting, saying he felt it “needed a more lengthy discussion.”
“Are we seriously considering taking away these athletic opportunities for our students?” Dorsch said.
“I’ve got two board members who are not comfortable. I’m the third,” Crowl said. “We need a longer discussion on the item. I don’t see what the problem is.”
By a 3-2 vote, the resolution was moved to the next meeting.
In other business, the board approved athletic field rental rates, as well as the settlement agreement and release in the Ashley Ryder v. Big Walnut Local Schools case.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.