In a symbolic ceremony at mid-court of Westchester High School's gymnasium, Gov. George Deukmejian on Monday signed legislation requiring junior and senior high school students to maintain at least a C average to participate in extracurricular activities.
Deukmejian said the bill, authored by state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), "will help to ensure that our best athletes become good students as well and that they train their minds as well as their bodies."
The new law, passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the Legislature, applies on a statewide basis the minimum grade-point-average requirements already imposed by about 70% of California's school districts. The so-called pass-to-play law goes into effect Jan. 1 and makes California the second state--Texas was the first--to establish minimum academic standards for extracurricular activities.
State Funds at Stake
Under the law, students in grades 7 through 12 who fall below a 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale would be given one semester to improve their marks or face exclusion from non-academic activities. A district failing to enforce the minimum standards could lose state funds.
A provision in the new law authorizes local districts to impose higher minimum standards.
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The new law brought mixed reactions Monday from Orange County school officials.
Some systems, notably Saddleback Valley Unified School District and the Irvine Unified School District, already have similar requirments.
But some, including the Capistrano Unified School District, have considered and rejected the C-average requirement. Officials in those districts were critical of the state's involvement in that question.
Jerome Thornsley, superintendent of the Capistrano school district, said: "Our (school) board considered having the C-average requirement but voted it down after much discussion." He added that rules about extracurricular activities "ought to be left to local school districts. It's another example of the state interfering with local control."
Thornsley said his school board had decided "that students taking part in athletics and co-curricular activities shouldn't have to have higher requirements than those imposed for obtaining a high school diploma."
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Stricter minimum standards have been imposed by a number of local school districts. Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, bars any student with a failing grade in any course from participating in extracurricular activities regardless of his overall average.
While the legislation applies to other extracurricular activities such as drama and band, Deukmejian confined his comments upon signing the bill at the high school near the Los Angeles International Airport to school athletics.
Asked during a brief question-and-answer period if he regards a C average as a high enough scholastic standard for California, Deukmejian said, "What we're trying to do is to ensure that athletes are at least average. . . . There's nothing in this bill, you know, that prevents them from being above average.
Some Athletes Ill Prepared
"There have been, unfortunately, too many cases in the past where a number of young athletes . . . have gone through the system . . . (who) were not well prepared for what are going to be the demands upon them, their lifetimes and their families in the future," Deukmejian said.
In addition to the pass-to-play bill, Deukmejian also signed legislation to place two bond issues on the November ballot. One measure seeks $800 million for elementary and secondary school construction and remodeling as part of a long-range construction plan that Deukmejian said could involve $4 billion over the next five years. The other measure, by Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) would authorize $400 million for the state's community colleges, state universities and the University of California.