Lake Preston, Hamlin and Sisseton successfully appeal sports classifications

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PIERRE — On Wednesday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors heard appeals from five schools concerning adjustments to their student numbers. A school’s average daily membership determines its classification for sports. Three of the appeals were successful.

Two of the appeals dealt with religious exemptions. Lake Preston and Hamlin both have students that belong to the Apostolic Lutheran religion that does not allow participation in extracurricular activities.

Lake Preston Superintendent Dana Felderman explained to the board that removing the four Apostolic Lutheran students from the school ADM would allow the school to continue to compete in Class B of nine-man football.

Lake Preston’s appeal was approved. A similar appeal from Hamlin was the subject of quite a bit more discussion.

A letter to the board from Hamlin School District Superintendent Patrick Kraning said that 54.3% of the district’s students would not be participating in extracurricular activities because of their religious beliefs.

He asked that Hamlin be allowed to continue to participate in 9AA football rather than move up to 11B. He also asked that the school be allowed to remain in Class B for golf and wrestling rather than moving up to Class A.

Board member Marty Weismantel of Groton said Hamlin is getting state aid for all of the students in its district. Allowing the school to participate in nine-man football means it will be competing against schools that have a third of its overall enrollment.

“It’s not like they’re struggling for numbers,” Weismantel said.

The board approved the appeal on a vote of 8-1 with Weismantel dissenting.

A letter from Sisseton High School principal Jim Frederick explained that six of the students counted in its average daily membership have lost their eligibility to participate in sports. Removing those students from the ADM allows Sisseton to keep its current classification. The board approved the appeal unanimously.

On the borderline for jumping from Class B in cross country to Class A, Kimball Activities Director Matt Dykstra said, “We just don’t have the numbers now in certain sports.”

Board member Kelly Messmer of Harding County said he was sympathetic but the numbers spoke for themselves.

“There are a lot of schools that have to deal with it,” Messmer said.

The Kimball appeal died for a lack of a motion.

SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos asked the board to table an appeal from Kadoka which asked that four students taking classes entirely online not be included in the school’s ADM. Swartos said he would talk with the school, as removing the four students would not change Kadoka’s classifications.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the average daily membership counts of member schools. Those numbers, from the S.D. Department of Education, will be used to classify schools for the next two school years.

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Lake Preston, Hamlin and Sisseton successfully appeal sports classifications

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