Ledyard family fighting policy excluding magnet students from extracurriculars
— Malloch Allison was Ledyard sad when he found out in September he could not join the Ledyard High School robotics team. The Marine Science Magnet High School sophomore and Ledyard resident wants to be a software engineer and thinks participating in the program would help him achieve his goal.
He participated in the FIRST LEGO League in middle school, and his older brother, Ronan Allison, encouraged Malloch to join him on Ledyard High School's FIRST Robotics team, the Ledyard Cyber Colonels. (FIRST, an acronym of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international youth organization.) MSMHS does not have a robotics team.
Malloch said he showed up to a practice in September but was told he could not join: Outside of sports, LHS extracurriculars are only open to its own students.
The Allison family, with support from other students and parents, is trying to change school policy. Malloch's mother, Ding Allison, spoke with Superintendent Jason Hartling in September and October and with Principal Amanda Fagan. She, Malloch and Ronan have since spoken at five Board of Education and subcommittee meetings.
“I just think the board of education is supposed to be for education, and they're just denying an educational opportunity,” Malloch said.
The Ledyard Board of Education Policy Committee will discuss the two relevant policies at its virtual meeting 5:30 p.m. today.
One policy says the board's responsibility for Ledyard students attending magnet schools is limited to providing tuition and special education funding. The other states in part, “Extracurricular activities are open to all students attending Ledyard Public Schools. Specific criteria for eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities shall be established by the school Principal. Participation in interscholastic athletics is also governed by (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) bylaws.”
Hartling said in his seven years as superintendent, he probably sees one request a year for an exception to join a club or even attend the prom.
The superintendent said Marine Science has activities and it's hard for smaller magnet schools to start new programs when “there are districts that undermine them with singular