High School Policies

  1. Policy on Harassment and Committment to Racial, Gender-Fair and Disability AwarenessThe Vermont Principals’ Association believes that all individuals should be treated with dignity, fairness and respect. Students must be able to participate in Association-sponsored activities in an environment that is free of sexual harassment, prejudice, and discrimination.The Vermont Principals’ Association and its member schools are committed to creating an environment in our activities and programs that promotes respect for and appreciation of racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious and ethnic differences, and is disability aware.Preventing prejudice and discrimination begins with every individual. The Vermont Principals’ Association believes that it begins with us, each and every one.
  2. Policy on Gender IdentityThe Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) recognizes the value of participation in interscholastic sports for all student athletes. The VPA is committed to providing all students with the opportunity to participate in VPA activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity as is outlined in the Vermont Agency of Education Best Practices For Schools For Transgender And Gender Nonconforming Students.Vermont’s Public Accommodations Act (9 V.S.A. 4502) and VPA policies prohibits discrimination and/or harassment of students on school property or at school functions by students or employees. The prohibition against discrimination includes discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender. Gender includes a person’s actual or perceived sex as well as gender identity and expression.
    1. Definitions:For the purposes of these guidelines, the following definitions will apply:
      1. Assigned Sex at Birth: the sex designation, usually male or female, assigned to a person when they are born.
      2. Gender Expression: the manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms.
      3. Gender Identity: means an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender-identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth. (1 V.S.A. 144)
      4. Gender non-conforming: a term used to describe people whose gender expressions differs from stereotypic expectations. The term “gender variant” or “gender atypical” are also used. Gender non-conforming individuals may identify as male, female, some combination of both, or neither.
      5. Sexual Orientation: a person’s sexual orientation and sexual attraction to other people based on the gender of the other person. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity. Not all transgender youth identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual and not all gay, lesbian and bisexual youth display gender nonconforming characteristics.
      6. Transgender: an adjective describing a person whose sex assigned to him or her at birth does not correspond to their gender identity.
      7. Transition: the process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another.
    2. Privacy Policy:All discussions and documentation shall be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law unless the student and the family make a specific request in writing.
    3. Procedures:
      1. The student and the parent(s)/guardians shall notify the Superintendent (or designee) that the student would like the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics consistent with the gender he/she identifies as.
      2. The student’s home school will determine the eligibility of a student seeking to participate in
        interscholastic athletics in a manner consistent with his/her gender identity where the
        student’s gender identity does not correspond to his/her sex assigned at birth.
      3. The Superintendent (or designee) will confirm the gender identity asserted for purposes
        of trying out for an interscholastic sports team through documentation from the parent, guardian, guidance counselor or from a doctor, psychologist, counselor or other medical personnel. A medical diagnosis shall not be required.
      4. Once a member school has rendered a determination of eligibility to try out for an
        interscholastic sports team or teams which corresponds to the student’s gender identity the eligibility is granted for the duration of the student’s participation in interscholastic athletics. The student must meet all school and VPA standards for eligibility for practice and competition.
      5. The school’s Athletic Director should notify the VPA if any accommodations are needed.
    4. Appeals:All appeals with respect to a school’s determination as to eligibility of a transgender student to participate in interscholastic sports will go directly to the VPA for consideration/action.
  3. Policy on a Coach’s Code of EthicsThe responsibility of a coach is to teach attitudes, proper habits, knowledge and skills. The athletic program is designed to enhance academic achievement and should never interfere with opportunities for academic success. Each student athlete should be treated as an individual whose welfare shall be primary at all times. The coach must be aware that he or she serves as a model in the education of the student athlete and, therefore, shall never place the value of winning above the value of character building.
    1. Core Coaching Beliefs
      1. The coach must constantly uphold the honor and dignity of the teaching profession. In all personal contact with the student athlete, officials, athletic directors, school administrators, the state high school athletic association, the media and the public, the coach shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct.
      2. The coach shall support and enforce school rules for the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and abuse, and under no circumstances shall authorize the use of these substances.
      3. The coach shall promote the entire interscholastic program of the school and direct his or her program in harmony with the total school program.
      4. The coach shall be thoroughly acquainted with contest, state, league and local rules, and is responsible for their interpretation to team members. The coach shall abide by the letter and spirit of these rules at all times.
      5. Coaches shall actively use their influence to enhance sportsmanship by their spectators, working closely with cheerleaders, booster clubs, and administrators.
      6. Contest officials shall have the respect and support of the coach. The coach shall not indulge in conduct that incites players or spectators against the officials or against each other. Public criticism of officials or players is unethical.
      7. Before and after contests, rival coaches should meet and exchange friendly greetings to set the correct tone for the event.
      8. A coach shall not exert pressure on faculty members to give student athletes special consideration.
      9. It is unethical for coaches to scout opponents by any other means than those adopted by the state high school athletic association and the league.
  4. Policy on Chemicals and HealthThe VPA recognized the use of chemicals as a significant health problem for many adolescents, resulting in negative effects on behavior, learning and the total development of each individual. The misuse and abuse of chemicals for some adolescents affects extracurricular participation and development of related skills. Others are affected by the misuse and abuse by family, team members and other significant persons in their lives.The close contact in VPA activities of advisors and coaches and other athletic department personnel provides them with a unique opportunity to observe, confront and assist young people. The VPA, therefore, supports education and awareness training in adolescent chemical use problems including the symptomatology of chemical dependency and special issues affecting athletic activities for administrators, athletic directors, coaches, advisors, participants and their families.
    1. Chemical Awareness Procedures
      1. Put the training and conduct rules of your coaches and school in writing.
      2. Have your school attorney review the rules.
      3. Have your School Board review and adopt your rules.
      4. Have the rules printed in the student handbook.
      5. Print the rules in the school paper.
      6. Post the rules in the locker rooms and on bulletin boards.
      7. Give your athletic participants a copy of eligibility rules.
      8. Send the rules home to parents.
      9. If possible, have your local newspaper publish your rules.
      10. Sponsor a Chemical Awareness evening with parents, coaches and student athlete candidates.
  5. Policy on Principal’s Responsibilities Regarding Student ActivitiesSchools that hold a voluntary membership in the Vermont Principals’ Association may participate in interscholastic activities only with other VPA member schools or schools that have been approved by the VPA. No school which holds a voluntary membership in the VPA may participate in interscholastic activities with a school located in another state unless that school is a member in good standing of its state association or permission is given by the VPA. It shall be the responsibility of the Principal of each member school to determine that all opponents in interscholastic athletic contests are members in good standing of its state athletic association.
    1. OfficialsProcedures for selection of officials will be sanctioned by the principal.
    2. ChangesNo game shall be cancelled nor dates changed except by mutual consent of the principals concerned or their designees, or by procedures approved by a league.
    3. Raffles50/50 raffles will be allowed at any Vermont Principals’ Association finals (championships) and the semi-final contests in football, ice hockey and basketball plus divisional qualifiers in wrestling and track/field when these events are held at school sites.
  6. Policy of Religious Non-Participation By StudentsIt is not within the province of the Vermont Principals’ Association to oversee the calendar of its’ member schools or the leagues/conference they may belong to. In planning state activities, the VPA attempts to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays, SAT/ACT testing dates and other major activities of state-wide importance. The VPA therefore, urges that member schools be sensitive to the social and religious mores of their individual communities and that they plan their school and student activities calendar so as not to conflict with the extra-school needs of large numbers of students, or to place them in extreme position of having to choose between their religion and a major school activity.
  7. Policy on Student EligibilityThe definition of co-curricular activities in this document shall include all interscholastic and extra-curricular activities sanctioned by the VPA.Certification of Eligibility1. The principal of each member school shall certify to the VPA that all participants representing that school in interscholastic activities during the regular season and during VPA sponsored events shall meet all eligibility requirements of the school and the VPA. This certification shall be due two weeks after the start of the sports season.

    2. The administrator of each Recognized Independent School or parent/teacher of a student enrolled in a Home Study Program shall certify to the VPA that all participants representing the school or program meet all eligibility requirements of the VPA. This certification shall be due two weeks after the start of the sports season.

    1. Standards of Eligibility
      1. Eligibility rules and activities policies apply to all students, both boys and girls, in grades 7-12 in affiliated schools. Eligibility rules and activities policies apply to all activities, both athletic and non-athletic, sanctioned or sponsored by the VPA.
      2. Home Study Programs -A home study student who wishes to participate in a public school co-curricular program shall be an “eligible student” under this section if:
        1. The participating student is enrolled in a home-study program in compliance with Title 16 V.S.A, Section 166(b).
        2. The participating student must have a legal residence in the school district or is a legal resident of a district that does not maintain a school and pays tuition on behalf of its students.
        3. Participation in a school’s co-curricular activities program shall not commence until a copy of the Vermont Agency of Education Enrollment Letter is presented to the principal by the parent or guardian.
        4. The participating student’s academic program, as referenced in the Vermont Agency of Education Enrollment Letter, will be reviewed by the student’s parent or guardian at appropriate intervals as locally determined and consistent for all students to determine academic progress. This review and determination must be certified in writing from the parent/guardian to the principal.
        5. The student may participate in co-curricular activities sponsored by a VPA member school provided the student complies with the same physical examination, insurance, age and any other requirements for participation as required of all students.
        6. Eligibility issues on all matters other than academic progress may be appealed in accordance with the bylaws of the Vermont Principals’ Association.
        7. Prior to the start of a sport season or fine arts and performance activities in which a home study student wishes to participate, the parent or guardian and student must notify the principal in writing that he/she wishes to participate in a school’s co-curricular activities program. Failure to provide a timely notification will not disqualify the student from participating, but may result in some delays in participation.
        8. The home study student must adhere to the same standards of behavior, responsibilities and performance as other participants of the team.
        9. Consistent with the law governing all student athletes, participation in co-curricular activities programs is a privilege, not a right, and nothing in these eligibility standards is intended to confer a right on any individual to participate in co-curricular activities.
      3. Student Participation LimitationsParticipation on scholastic teams is limited to enrolled students and qualified home study students. The rationale for this limitation is as follows:
        1. Co-curricular activities are supposed to be part of a scholastic program. These are school teams, not community teams.
        2. School teams promote academic progress in the classroom by requiring adherence to local academic standards. At a minimum, it is more difficult for schools to administer academic standards when some of the participants in activities are, because they are not enrolled, exempted from those requirements.
        3. School teams help promote a sense of community within the school.
        4. Participation by individuals who are not enrolled displaces enrolled students. All teams have limited playing time. Most teams have cut policies; some students do not even get to participate on their school team. We should not tell enrolled students to sit on the sidelines, or even not make the team, because someone from another school has taken the spot.
        5. Participation by individuals not enrolled places the school’s administrators, teachers and coaches in the position of having responsibility for the participant without the authority they have over enrolled students.
        6. The VPA wants to nurture an environment in which all schools have proper incentives to fund and support a full range of activities for their students. To the extent that private schools can simply have their students play for other schools’ teams, this diminishes their incentives to provide an appropriate range of activities for their students. It also may diminish local support for activities, in that local dollars would be diverted to support students from other schools. The net effect would likely be that students have fewer opportunities to participate in activities.
    2. Eligibility Limitations and Amateur Status
      1. Contestants or participants must be enrolled in their school and must meet the school’s prescribed academic and eligibility rules. Students may only compete on school teams sponsored by their own school during the season, and may only compete for the one school in which he or she is officially enrolled. Students may participate in meets as individuals but may not participate as a member of another team.Use of 8th Grade Students on High School Teams
        1. The VPA Policy with regard to below grade nine participation on high school teams is based on core sports (baseball, basketball soccer and softball) with four divisions (the sole exception to this is girls ice hockey).
        2. That no student-athlete below grade eight will be allowed in any VPA sanctioned sports at any level (varsity, junior varsity, freshman).
        3. That grade eight participation is possible in Division 1, 2 and 3 by waiver request. Grade eight participation may be granted only at the lowest level of team offering at the school.
        4. That division 4 schools may use a grade eight student-athlete on a sub-varsity team provided that the student-athlete is needed to maintain the schools sub- varsity team. If a Division 4 school does not have a sub-varsity team, the grade eight student-athlete may be used on a varsity team provided that: a) a waiver has been granted by the VPA AND that b) no other student-athlete in grades 9 through 12 has been cut from the program.
        5. That the grade eight student-athlete who will participate on in a high school sports program falls under the same academic and behavioral expectations of high school students.
        6. That the grade eight student-athlete who participates on a high school sports team will be granted five years (10 semesters) of eligibility.
        7. That schools must apply for a waiver from the VPA in order to use a grade eight student-athlete in any sport with less than 4 divisions.
        8. That a determination has been made by his/her principal to ensure that the grade eight student-athlete is physically, mentally and socially prepared to participate at the high school level.
        9. In girl’s hockey, 8th graders may only be used if, a) there is a lack of an appropriate program at their grade level either in a local club or middle school program (thus their only option would be to play on a boy’s team , with full contact) and b) the high school program has demonstrated need for athletes to maintain their program (using the Member to Member numbers to determine a full compliment of players for a team).
      2. VPA Criteria For Granting Waivers
        1. The use of the grade eight student-athlete is considered necessary for a school to field a team in that sport
        2. The grade eight student-athlete must not displace another student-athlete in grades nine through twelve.
        3. The grade eight student-athlete must meet all the VPA eligibility requirements.
        4. The grade eight student-athlete must be a bona-fide student in the same school district as the high school.
        5. The use of the grade eight student-athlete cannot eliminate or unduly impact a middle school team.
        6. In cases where the grade eight student-athlete comes from a sending school, both the sending AND the receiving schools’ administrators must agree to the usage of this grade eight student-athlete.
        7. The grade eight student-athlete is not eligible to participate in high school sports that have an individual component to them (track, cross-country, wrestling, golf, nordic ski, alpine ski, snowboarding, gymnastics).
      3. Non School Competition Rules
        1. A member of a school team is a student athlete who is regularly present for, and actively participates in, all team tryouts, practices and competitions. Bona fide members of a school team are prevented from missing a high school practice or competition to compete with an out-of-school team, practice or competition to include tournaments, showcases, combines or other athletic events.
        2. Whenever a conflict arises between the high school team practice/competition and an out-of-school practice/competition on the same day, the high school team practice/competition shall be honored by the student athlete. Priority must be given at all times to the high school team, its practices, and its contest unless permission has been granted by the school. It is expressly understood that permission shall not be granted on a regular basis.
        3. It is highly recommended to all schools that this information be put into all athletic handbooks and also should be presented by Athletic Directors/Coaches at pre-season meetings with athletes and parents. (Date Warned: 5-28-14, Date Adopted: 8-8-14)
      4. Transfer Students
        1. Transfer students are immediately eligible provided they were bona fide students in good standing in the school from which they transferred according to the definition in (a) above and there is a bona fide change in residence. If the transfer is the result of any coercion, recruiting or inducement to move in order to participate in interscholastic activities, students will be ineligible for a period of 365 calendar days from the date of the infraction.
        2. If there is no bona fide change in residence, students are eligible to participate immediately if they transfer before the first play date of that sports season. If a student transfers after the first play date of that sports season and does not change residence, the student must wait 20 calendar days after the transfer to be eligible, and must participate in at least 60% of the regular season competitions (at the new school) to be eligible for post-season competition.
        3. The VPA may grant a waiver of the 20 calendar day waiting period, the 60% eligibility requirement or the 365 calendar day waiting period upon request by the school, if the school establishes that the transfer was made for reasons not related to activities.
        4. Students who transfer from one school to another and then transfer back to their original school, or any other school, are not eligible for sports participation for the remainder of that school year unless the transfer is due to a change in residence or permission is granted by the VPA.
      5. Recruitment
        1. A school shall be deemed in violation of the rule against recruitment for directly or indirectly supporting or sanctioning recruitment if a representative or agent of the school, or any individual or group associated with the athletic programs of that school, approaches a student athlete in another school, apart from a publicized meeting for all prospective students in that school, and directly or indirectly attempts to persuade or induce a student athlete to enroll in his/her school. A school may also violate this rule by failing to take adequate steps to control recruitment by third parties.
      6. Age Rule
        1. A student who competes in any VPA sanctioned activity must be under nineteen (19) years of age, except that a student whose nineteenth (19th) birthday occurs on or after August 1 is eligible for all activities in the ensuing school year. Students who have attained the age of nineteen (19) prior to August 1 shall be ineligible for all VPA sanctioned activities.
      7. Diplomas
        1. Students are ineligible if they have graduated from any course of study in a secondary school comparable to the Vermont system. The initial determination of whether the secondary school is comparable shall be made by the school’s principal. If there is a question concerning the eligibility of a student under this rule, the Assoc. Executive Director of the VPA (or his/her designee) may review the principal’s determination. Determining whether a secondary school is comparable, the principal, Assoc. Executive Director, Activity Standards Committee and the Board of Appeals shall give consideration to the normal number of years of the primary and secondary school program; the length of the school day and year; the curriculum; whether graduation makes the student eligible for post secondary education; and any other relevant information. If the total length of the normal primary and secondary program for the school system in question is less than twelve years, then the secondary school may be deemed less than comparable. Waivers of this eligibility rule may also be granted in accordance with these bylaws.
      8. Length of High School Eligibility
        1. Students have four (4) consecutive years or eight (8) consecutive semesters of eligibility for participation in school activities. Attendance of thirty (30) school days of any semester shall be regarded as a semester. Attendance is defined as being included in the official roll and attendance records of the school and not physical presence in the class. A student that is enrolled for his/her eighth and final semester of eligibility, during the fall-winter term, may complete the winter sports season as long as he/she is an eligible student and has not graduated.
      9. Years of Participation in the Same Sport
        1. No student may participate in the same sport for more than four seasons.
      10. Amateur Status Rulings and CommentsStudents are ineligible if they have lost their amateur standing under any of these qualifications.
        1. They have received remuneration, gifts or donations directly or indirectly for participation in an athletic contest or as a prize for being outstanding players.
        2. They have participated under an assumed name.
        3. They have competed on a team on which some player was paid for his participation.
        4. They have entered into a playing contract with a professional club or agent.
        5. Reference to “gifts or donations” is not intended to preclude the acceptance of playing apparel and equipment that is provided by a sponsoring organization.
        6. Students who lose amateur status in one sport do not lose it in other sports.
        7. Students who become members of a ski patrol will not jeopardize their amateur standing.
        8. Amateurs or a team of amateurs may participate against a team of professionals. Amateurs may not participate on a professional team, or on a team where members of the team are receiving remuneration for their athletic services.
        9. High school students should be advised to exercise great caution in participating in any athletic activity where there are cash prizes. Youngsters should be extremely careful in participating in adult bowling leagues where there are cash prizes. These rulings are made with two thoughts in mind:Maintaining an amateur status while participating in interscholastic activities.Protecting future athletic eligibility for activities after completion of high school.
      11. Attendance at Sports Skills Instructional Programs
        1. Students who during the regular school day, attend specialized schools or programs where the primary purpose of this instruction or program is to enhance skills in specific sports and/or activities, during the time of established VPA seasons in that particular activity, will not be permitted to participate with their home school in that activity.Participation in All Star Contests1. For the purpose of this policy, an All Star contest is defined to be one in which student athletes are selected based upon their performance as a Member of a VPA school sanctioned athletic activity.2. The VPA does not sanction or approve of All Star contests. Student athletes who participate in All Star contest will lose their VPA eligibility to participate in that same sport at their high school for the next sport season. The only exceptions to this is when the All Star contest is directly related to the activities of the U.S. Olympic Committee, involves a Senior who has completed their sports eligibility (participation in one sport does not affect participation in another sport) or if the VPA Office gives specific approval for that event.
    3. Exceptions and Waivers
      1. Eligibility for Foreign Exchange and International Students
        1. A foreign exchange student is an international student who attends high school in the U.S. To be eligible for interscholastic athletics in the U.S., such students must be under the auspices of and be placed with a U.S. host family by an international student exchange program that has been accepted for listing by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) and be recognized by the U.S. Department of State. The foreign exchange program must assign students to host families by a method that ensures that no student is placed because of his/her athletic interests or abilities.
        2. A foreign exchange student is considered to be placed with a host family when written notice of placement is provided by the exchange organization to the student and his/her parents, and to the host family. No member of the school’s coaching staff, paid or voluntary, shall serve as the host family.
        3. The foreign exchange student must possess a current J-1 visa, issued by the U.S. State Department.
        4. The foreign exchange student must comply with all eligibility requirements set forth by the Vermont Principals’ Association in this document.
        5. The foreign exchange student may not be a graduate of or have received a diploma from a secondary school or its equivalent, which is comparable to a Vermont secondary school in the student’s native country.
        6. An international student who is not under the auspices of and placed by a CSIET listed exchange program must meet the following requirements in order to be considered for interscholastic athletics eligibility in any state:
          1. The student must possess a current F-1 visa, issued by the U.S. Immigration.
          2. The student must provide to the principal of the school he/she attends an official untranslated transcript and a transcript that is translated into English by an acceptable agent or agency, which indicates work taken in all grades in which the student was enrolled.
          3. The international student must pay tuition to the high school he/she attends as prescribed in Section 625 of U.S. Public Law 104-208.
          4. No member of the school’s coaching staff, paid or voluntary, shall serve as the resident family for the student.
          5. The international student must comply with all eligibility requirements set forth by The Vermont Principals’ Association in this document.
        7. Non-compliance with one or more of the foregoing provisions shall render the international student ineligible for interscholastic athletics at any high school that is a member of any NFHS member state high school association.
      2. Waivers (grounds for and hardship rule)
        1. Waivers of eligibility rules in matters of age may be granted as a matter of discretion only under extraordinary circumstances in which undue hardship (as defined in these rules) directly causes non-compliance with the eligibility rule, and if the waiver will not have an adverse impact on other participants or the fairness of competition.
        2. For eligibility in matters other than age, waivers may be granted or denied as an exercise of discretion by the Activities Standards Committee after considering the information that the Committee deems relevant. Schools may file for hardship waivers for their students utilizing the Hardship Application that is on the VPA website. As part of the packet, schools need to include the following; a copy of the students transcript, a letter from the school administrator supporting the waiver request, a letter from the parent and or student describing the request and any other pertinent information that the school would like to include. Once completed, the packet is to be sent to the VPA and a meeting will be arranged with the Activity Standards Committee. At this meeting, school representatives, the student and parent/guardian will be welcome to attend and may present information to the committee.
        3. Eligibility waivers fall into one of three categories: Medical, Situational or Refugee. All eligibility waiver request must fall into one of these three categories.”
        4. Hardship Waiver Rule- The Activities Standards Committee interprets undue hardship as a
          situation to the student-athlete which is severe enough to prevent the normal application of VPA eligibility rules. Circumstances involving choice on the part of the student or parents/guardians does not necessarily constitute undue hardship.
        5. Appeals from the application of VPA policies and or waivers of VPA policies may be made by a member school directly to the VPA. Appeals/waiver requests may be approved by the VPA Office or may be referred to the VPA Activity Standards Committee for consideration. Requests that are denied by the VPA Office may be appealed to the VPA Activity Standards Committee by the member schools. Requests that are denied by the Activity Standards Committee may be appealed to the VPA Appeals Committee
        6. Appeals of local school policies often follow the steps listed below. However, contact your local school to determine your school’s specific processFirst step: Meet and present issues with the school’s athletic director,Second step: If unresolved, meet and present issues to the school’s principal,Third step: If unresolved, meet and present issues to district superintendent,

          Fourth Step: If unresolved, meet and present issues to local school board (this is the final step).

          Note – appeals of local school policies cannot be appealed to the VPA as these are local policies in which the VPA has no jurisdiction.”

      3. Enforcement and Appeals Rule (revised 8/7/15)
        1. Disciplinary Action Procedures: (Note: This applies to appeals of VPA policies, not local school district policies or procedures).
        2. Investigation. When alleged violations of VPA policies or rules are reported, the Executive Director or designee shall investigate any alleged violations in person or through a designated representative.
        3. Notice of Probable Violation. If the Executive Director or designee determines from the preliminary investigation that a probable violation has occurred, the Executive Director or designee shall give to the alleged violator written notice of the probable violation. The written notice shall contain the charges made, a recommended penalty and a copy of the preliminary investigation report, if a report has been prepared. The notice shall also advise the alleged violator of his/her/its opportunity to be heard before the Activities Standards Committee.
        4. Opportunities to be Heard. The alleged violator may accept the notice and recommended penalty, or may file an appeal with the Activities Standards Committee. The alleged violation and penalty shall be final unless the alleged violator submits to the Activities Standards Committee a written appeal with a written explanation of his/her version of the events within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the Notice of Probable violation.
        5. Request for Hearing. A hearing (either in person or by electronic means) will be set, provided a request is made in writing and delivered to the Executive Director or designee within seven (7) calendar days from the date of the Notice of Probable Violation.
        6. Evidence, Right to Counsel. If a hearing is requested, it will be set to be heard within fourteen (14) school days from the request. The alleged violator may introduce evidence and may be represented by counsel. Evidence may be in the form of testimony, affidavits, written reports, electronic recordings or other information that may assist the Committee in making its decision.
        7. Closing of Hearings. After the presentation of evidence, the Activities Standards Committee shall declare the hearings closed.
        8. Reopening of Hearings. The hearings may be reopened by the Activities Standards Committee or upon application in writing of any party at any time before the decision is made, if the Activities Standards Committee, in its discretion, determines to reopen the hearing.
        9. Modification of Deadline. The Activities Standards Committee may modify any period of time governing its proceedings by mutual agreement or for good cause.
        10. Time of Decision: The decision shall be made by the Activities Standards Committee within seven school days after the closing of hearings or seven (7) school days after review of the written explanation, if no request for a hearing is made. The decision shall be mailed by the Activities Standards Committee to each party by certified mail, return receipt requested, or electronic means.
        11. Decision. The findings and decision of the Activities Standards Committee shall be in writing. The Committee may assess appropriate sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, warnings, forfeitures, prohibitions from competitions, suspension, expulsion of membership, and individual bans or suspensions.
        12. Suspensions: The Executive Director or designee may, on a temporary basis, may suspend schools, students, and VPA Tournament officials from participation in athletic events prior to a final determination of any appeal. In such event, the suspension shall be continued for no longer than is reasonably necessary for the Activities Standards Committee to convene a hearing if one is requested by the affected parties.
        13. Proper Parties: Only schools shall have the right to challenge discipline assessed against the school or the school’s teams. Individuals connected with the school or the affected team may not challenge discipline that is assessed against the school or the team, but may, accompanied by representatives from the school, or in collaboration with the school, may challenge actions or decisions that affect their individual eligibility.
      4. Appeal from Committee Action
        1. Any VPA Committee action or decision may be appealed directly to the Activities Standards Committee for determination. The principal or designee of the school involved must formally notify the Executive Director or designee in writing (by letter, fax or email) of the appeal, the grounds of the appeal, and whether the school or individual intends to present evidence in support of the appeal. The Activities Standards Committee shall hear the appeal. The Committee shall conduct the appeal in accordance with the procedures described above. Actions or decisions involving a school or a school team may only be appealed by the leadership of the school. Individuals connected with the school or affected team may not challenge actions or decisions on their own that are made concerning schools or teams, but may, accompanied by a representative of the member school challenge actions or decisions that affect their individual eligibility.
        2. The Executive Director or designee shall then notify the principal of the date, time and place of the hearing, which may be conducted by telephone or electronically. The principal of the schools involved in the appeal, or his or her designee, must participate in the appeal hearing. If the appeal concerns individual eligibility, the student and his/her parent or guardian must participate in the appeal hearing. Schools or individuals requesting action by the Activities Standards Committee shall submit all relevant information and argument to the Activities Standards Committee at least five business days prior to the Appeals hearing.
      5. Board Of Appeals
        1. The Executive Council shall appoint a Board of Appeals as an independent party to hear an appeal from eligibility and discipline decisions concerning activities made by the Activity Standards Committee following appeals under these bylaws. To afford full due process, any decision of the Activities Standards Committee denying eligibility to an individual or team may be appealed to the Board of Appeals. Actions or decisions addressing a school or a school team may only be appealed by the school. Individuals connected with the school or affected team may not challenge actions or decisions that are made concerning schools or teams, but may challenge actions or decisions that affect their individual eligibility.
        2. The Board of Appeals shall not have authority to alter any policy or bylaw, but shall apply the policies and bylaws in resolving such appeals.
        3. The Board of Appeals shall consist of five (5) VPA members, and three appointees from other educational organizations, including one superintendent, one teacher, and one school board member. The appointments from other educational organizations would be made in consultation with the Vermont Superintendents’ Association, the Vermont NEA, and the Vermont School Boards’ Association. Five duly-appointed members of the Board of Appeals must be present to hear and determine any appeals.
        4. The Board of Appeals shall appoint one of its members to preside as Chair over the hearings of any appeal and the presiding member shall control the manner and presentation of the evidence presented at the hearing of the appeal.
        5. All appeals must be sent to the Board of Appeals through the Executive Director or designee and shall be delivered by letter, fax or email within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the decision from which the appeal is taken. This notice of appeal must contain (1) copy of the decision appealed from; (2) the grounds on which the appeal is based; and (3) the names of all interested parties; (3) a detailed description of the persons who will be participating, and the evidence to be presented at the hearing, will be sent to the VPA within five business days of the hearing. The Board of Appeals may modify any period of time governing its proceedings by mutual agreement or for good cause.
        6. The Board of Appeals shall give notice of the hearing delivered by letter, fax or email to all interested parties designated as such in the of appeal. The hearing may be held by electronic means.
        7. At the hearing on the merits, the Chair of the Board of Appeals shall preside. A board member who has a conflict of interest shall disqualify himself/herself from participation or attendance in the hearing.
        8. At the hearing, the Board of Appeals shall receive evidence in the form of testimony, affidavits, written reports, electronic recordings or other information that may assist their decision. Individuals attending the hearing may not participate unless they are providing evidence or they are parties or attorneys making arguments. It should be noted that if the school and/or appealing party plans to have legal counsel, the VPA reserves the right to also have legal counsel and must receive timely notification in advance. This may necessitate a delay in the Appeal hearing timeline. At the hearing, a representative or designee from the Activities Standards Committee shall participate as a party and explain the decision of the Activities Standards Committee. The principal of the schools involved in the appeal, or his or her designee, must participate in the appeal hearing, regardless of whether or not the school supports or opposes the appeal. All interested parties shall have full opportunity to present evidence. The Board may recess the hearing to obtain additional information or evidence.
        9. The Board of Appeals shall make a prompt decision within seven (7) school days after the closing of the hearing; written findings and decisions supported by the evidence shall be delivered to each party by letter, fax or email.
        10. If the Board of Appeals finds that the appeal involves new or relevant information that was not presented to the Activities Standards Committee, the Board shall immediately remand the appeal to the Activities Standards Committee for reconsideration of the new information. In making this determination, the Board of Appeals acknowledges that the Activities Standards Committee has the initial and primary responsibility for administering activities, and shall have the opportunity to formally consider all facts and arguments that may affect an appeal and whether there was good cause for failure to submit the new information.
      6. Legal Action Against Association by Member Schools
        1. The VPA is a voluntary association, which is democratically governed. VPA member schools agree to abide by final decisions of the VPA. VPA members agree that litigation by members against the VPA undermines the VPA governance structure and wastes valuable resources that could otherwise be devoted to students.
        2. Any VPA member school which is a party to legal action in any court to overturn, stay, or enjoin any final decision of the VPA and is subsequently unsuccessful in seeking a verdict shall be liable for reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the Association in defending against such action.
        3. Should the Association be forced to initiate legal action to collect the aforementioned costs and attorney’s fees, the member school shall be additionally liable for the Association’s reasonable costs and attorney’s fees resulting from the collection action.
    4. Penalties
      1. Enforcement of Rules by Schools
        1. Schools. Schools are expected to comport with and enforce the eligibility standards as set out in the VPA bylaws and policies.
        2. Violations of the eligibility standards by schools shall result in one or more of the following penalties:(1) A warning in writing to the principal.(2) Forfeiture of game will result(3) Prohibition from post-season competition or state wide nonathletic activity

          (4) Suspension or exclusion of institutional membership in the VPA.

      2. Violation of Eligibility Standards
        1. A student who has violated one of the eligibility rules becomes immediately ineligible. This includes: academic eligibility (sections (a), (e), (f), (g), (l) transfer or amateur status (section (k); or enrollment in a specialized school/program where the primary purpose is to enhance athletic skills in a particular sport, resulting in ineligibility for that sport (section (l). becomes ineligible immediately.
      3. Violation of Eligibility Standards, Article II
        1. Violations of VPA Standards of Eligibility, Article II, will result in automatic forfeitures, by the school, of any competitions in which the students have participated.
      4. Tournament Play – ineligibility
        1. If a player or team in any VPA-sponsored tournament or championship is found to be ineligible following any rules in Article III, the Executive Director (or his/her designee), in consultation with the VPA Activities Standards Committee representative(s) and member(s) of the sport/activity committee in question, will make an ad hoc decision in consideration of the best interests of the tournament and the VPA membership as a whole.
        2. In cases where a team is declared ineligible at any level of the tournament and therefore disqualified from further competition, the ad hoc committee will correct the error at the lowest level of the tournament possible without causing a disruption of the tournament time lines. For example: When a team is disqualified from a tournament and it is impossible to correct the problem at its origin since it will disrupt the flow of the tournament for other teams, the problem is corrected at the next possible level by allowing the team defeated by the ineligible team to assume the position of the disqualified team and continue the tournament competition at that level.
        3. The decision made will aim to be the most reasonable and fair for all concerned while producing the least interruption of tournament structure and tournament time lines, maintaining all previously agreed to contractual commitments for facilities and personnel and promoting fair and equitable enforcement of tournament and VPA bylaws and rules.
  8. Policy on Rules for Organized Girls and Boys SportsState wide interscholastic sports are organized, supervised and regulated by Principals/Headmasters and advisers. The best interests of Vermont school age children are the uppermost goals for providing wholesome amateur athletic experiences.Competitors are expected to display a high standard of sportsmanship at all times. Fighting and unsportsmanlike acts cannot be tolerated. It is the responsibility of the school authorities, and especially the coaches and their staffs, to see that unsportsmanlike conduct is not condoned. Coaches can do much by precept and example.The Executive Director (or his/her designee) will investigate any act of unsportsmanlike conduct, crowd control, or any other actions detrimental to the health and/or safety of any participant, supervisor, chaperone, official, spectator and/or property; or acts detrimental to sound educational practices and a good interscholastic program, and take action deemed proper according to penalties defined in Article III, Section 6 to prevent reoccurrence. This relates to interscholastic activities between or among member schools, or schools holding membership in another state association, or activity sponsored by the VPA.
    1. General Rules
      1. Schools will organize formal practices for each athletic activity in accordance with the definition of the appropriate season.
      2. No school will schedule more than two (2) games per week, Monday through Friday, exclusive of the need to reschedule postponed games or compete in sanctioned tournaments. A third game may be scheduled on Saturday.
      3. In all sports, with the exception of baseball and softball, schools shall schedule no more than one contest per day per team. In baseball and softball, schools may schedule double headers, provided that all other policies and bylaws are followed.
      4. The Vermont Principals’ Association will allow the scheduling of VPA Sunday tournament play only under all the following circumstances:
        1. Weather conditions resulted in a postponed Saturday game.
        2. Both principals agree to such Sunday participation.
        3. Any game must be scheduled no earlier than 1 p.m.
      5. When schools schedule interscholastic games or contests with schools in other states, each school shall observe its own state regulations in eligibility.
      6. No member school will host or participate in an interstate tournament or meet involving more than two (2) schools unless such contest has been approved by all interested state associations. Application for sanction must be initiated at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the meet.
      7. The playing rules for interscholastic athletic contests shall be prescribed by the committee having the responsibility for that activity.
      8. No member school while involved in interscholastic competition with a team at the varsity, junior varsity and/or organized school unit level shall compete in a tournament not sanctioned by the VPA.
      9. Participants in all interscholastic athletic activities must have a minimum of ten (10) practice sessions before competing in interscholastic contests. No more than two practice sessions in a day shall count toward the minimum of ten practice sessions. Participants in unavoidably delayed state tournaments or authorized regional athletic activities are exempt from this rule if such participation prevents compliance. Participants must be allowed one day without any practice or game in each calendar week.
      10. Participants must have a minimum seven (7) days rest period before starting practice for the succeeding sports season. Participants in unavoidably delayed state tournaments or authorized regional athletic activities are exempt from this rule if such participation prevents compliance.
      11. No student may participate in any VPA-sanctioned activity without providing evidence to the student’s school administration or designee prior to participation in an activity showing that the participant is covered under some private or public health insurance program for the medical care for injuries that may be suffered on account of participation in an activity. Member institutions are encouraged to work with their student participants and parents to help make available individual insurance policies at affordable cost to students who wish to participate in VPA-sanctioned activities.
      12. Interscholastic athletics involving mixed (boys/girls) competition is prohibited except in those instances where the member school does not offer equivalent (same) activities for girls. In these situations, girls shall be eligible to try out in any activity, and upon becoming a member of the team, will be eligible for state competition.Therefore, boys shall not try out for traditional girls sports and be eligible for state competition. For purposes of this policy, the following activities are identified as girl’s sports: field hockey, softball, girls soccer, girls basketball, girls golf, girls gymnastics, girls hockey, girls lacrosse, girls alpine and nordic skiing, girls tennis, girls track and field, girls snowboarding, girls volleyball and girls ultimate.This policy recognizes traditional boys dominated sports and the need to protect opportunities for girl athletes.
    2. Unsportsmanlike Behavior
      1. Taunting/Harassment
        1. Taunting is considered any action(s) or comment(s) by coaches, players or spectators which are intended to bait, anger, embarrass, ridicule or demean others, whether or not the deeds or words are vulgar or racist. Included is contact that berates, needles, intimidates or threatens based on race, gender, ethnic origin or background, and conduct that attacks religious beliefs, size, economic status, speech, family, special needs or personal matters.
        2. Taunting in all sports is a flagrant unsportsmanlike foul that will result in a game ejection as outlined in the student/coach ejection policy (Article IV, Section 2: General Rules (l)(2) of this document.
        3. Each school is encouraged to have procedures in regard to taunting by spectators.
      2. Student/Coach Ejection RuleAny student/coach ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct or a flagrant foul shall be suspended from the next two contests, (with the exception of football, skiing and gymnastics, for which the suspension shall be one contest) in the sport from which the student/coach was ejected. If the ejection occurs in the last contest of the season, the student shall be ineligible for the same period of time in the next sport in which the student participates. If the ejection occurs in the last contest of the coach’s or student’s last sport season, the school shall take appropriate disciplinary action to impose a sanction proportionate to the penalties imposed by these rules, and shall report that discipline to the VPA. The suspended student may not be in uniform. A student who is ejected a second time shall be suspended for the remainder of the season in that sport.A coach ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct shall receive the same suspension given to student-athletes. If suspended, a coach may attend the contest, but must be seated in the spectator area and may not give instructions to the players or to the individual who has been assigned to coach the team any time prior to or during the contest. A suspended coach may not travel with the squad to an away contest. A student or coach who has been ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct for the second time in a season shall be suspended for the remainder of the season in that sport.
      3. Assault Upon Officials by Coaches.A coach who intentionally strikes, shoves, kicks, or makes other aggressive physical contact with an official before, during, or after an interscholastic contest, shall be disqualified immediately and his/her coach’s eligibility may be suspended for up to one full calendar year. A coach who is disqualified under this provision shall not coach in any contest, pending a hearing before the Activities Standards Committee. The Activities Standards Committee shall determine the length of the suspension, giving due consideration to all relevant factors, including the seriousness of the offense. At the end of any suspension the coach may request the reinstatement of his/her eligibility. At this time, the Activities Standards Committee will place the request on their next meeting agenda, at which meeting the coach and principal are required to attend. The Activities Standards Committee will make the determination whether or not to reinstate the coach’s eligibility.
      4. Assault Upon Officials by Students.Any member of the team who intentionally strikes, shoves, kicks, or makes other aggressive physical contact with an official before, during, or after an interscholastic contest, shall be disqualified immediately and may be ineligible to participate in all sports for up to one full calendar year. A student who is disqualified under this provision shall not play in any contest, pending a hearing before the Activities Standards Committee. The Activities Standards Committee shall determine the length of the suspension, giving due consideration to all relevant factors, including the seriousness of the offense. NOTE: “Member of the team” is defined to include players, manager, scorekeepers, timers, and statisticians.
      5. Assault Upon Coaches by Coaches.A coach who intentionally strikes, shoves or kicks, or makes other aggressive physical contact with another coach before, during, or after an interscholastic contest shall be disqualified immediately and his/her coach’s eligibility may be suspended for up to one calendar year. A coach who is disqualified under this provision shall not coach in any contest, pending a hearing before the Activities Standards Committee. The Activities Standards Committee shall determine the length of the suspension, giving due consideration to all relevant factors, including the seriousness of the offense. At the end of the suspension the coach may request the reinstatement of his/her eligibility. At this time, the Activities Standards Committee will place the request on their next meeting agenda, at which meeting the coach and Principal are required to attend. The Activities Standards Committee will make the determination whether or not to reinstate the coach’s eligibility.
      6. EnforcementIt is the responsibility of the local school to ensure this regulation is enforced. When a suspended student or coach is allowed to participate, forfeiture of the contest is mandatory. This regulation shall apply to all regular season and tournament contests.
      7. Appeal of ejection orders.Judgment calls by officials ordering ejection shall be final. The only grounds for appeal from a suspension under this section shall be that the ejection was caused by gross misconduct by the official, or that the official has filed a written report stating that the ejection was clearly erroneous. Unless a stay of the suspension is granted, by the Assoc. Executive Director in his/her sole discretion, the suspension shall be immediately effective.
    3. Sanctioning A New ActivityThe VPA is open to the development of new sports/activities initiatives that would benefit students in VPA member schools. Listed below are the steps that are necessary to present a new sport/activity and the timeline involved.
      1. If a school(s) or interested party, would like to present the possibility of a new sport or activity, a petition shall be brought to the VPA Activity Standards Committee. This petition will have evidence of a minimum of 9 schools that have indicated they would be willing to offer the sport/activity for two years on an “exhibition” basis.
      2. A meeting will be set with the VPA Activity Standards Committee at which the interested school(s) or parties will conduct a presentation concerning the proposed sport/activity. Written evidence from the schools interested in participating in this sport/activity will be provided. A general description of the sport/activity shall also be provided. Additional supporting documents/statements may also be presented. Members of the interested schools must be at the ASC meeting to answer questions.
      3. If approved, a committee will be formed to write the guide for the new sport/activity that will contain the rules and any other necessary information. This committee will also serve as the “official VPA committee” for that sport/activity for the next two years.
      4. At the end of the two year “exhibition” time, the sport/activity committee will meet again with ASC to summarize the progress that has been made over the two years. ASC will then vote as to whether the sport/activity is to be sanctioned.
    4. Coach Replacement During a Contest
      1. Prior to the start of any athletic contest the head coach must identify the adult who is designated to replace him/her in the event he/she is unable to complete the contest, due to illness, ejection, etc.
      2. When a coach is unable to continue, his/her team shall forfeit the contest if a replacement was not named prior to the start of the contest.
    5. Individual Student Participation LimitsThe present VPA policies relating to individual participation limitation per season are (team sports):
      1. Baseball – maximum 16 games (16 x 7 innings = 112 innings)
      2. Basketball – maximum 20 games (20 x 5 quarters = 100 quarters) “No basketball player shall play more than five (5) quarters in any day, exclusive of the need of overtime play. Note – overtime is considered as an extension of the 4th quarter. Participation in a quarter (no matter how much time is played) constitutes a quarter of play.”
      3. Field Hockey – maximum 14 games (14 x 2 halves = 28 halves)
      4. Football – maximum 9 games (9 x 4 quarters = 36 quarters)
      5. Ice Hockey – maximum 20 games (20 x 3 periods = 60 periods)
      6. Soccer – maximum 14 games (14 x 2 halves = 28 halves)
      7. Softball – maximum 16 games (16 x 7 innings = 112 innings)
      8. Lacrosse – maximum 16 games (16 x 4 periods = 64 periods)
    6. Fine For Submitting Late/Inaccurate ParingsMember VPA schools who submit inaccurate pairing forms shall be subject to the following fine system:
      1. 1st Submission: Warning in writing to the principal of the school and no fine.
      2. 2nd Submission and beyond: $200.00 per occurrence for activities that require applications.
      3. $100 per occurrence for required non-application materials (participation surveys, etc.)
      4. The member school principal shall be notified each time an inaccurate pairing form is submitted.
    7. VPA Lightning RuleThe VPA policy on lightning procedures for outdoor interscholastic activities is the following:
      1. When thunder is heard or lightning is seen, students and spectators must leave the field and go inside.
      2. Once lightning has been recognized or thunder heard, teams must wait at least thirty minutes (thirty minute rule) before resuming activities. Any subsequent lightning or thunder after the beginning of the 30-minute count should reset the clock and another count should begin.
      3. When in doubt … use good common sense — the safety of students is your most important responsibility.
      4. Stay away from tall or individual trees, lone objects, standing pools of water, and open fields. Avoid tallest object in field. Do not take shelter under a single tall tree.
      5. If there is no safe shelter within a reasonable distance, crouch in a thick grove of small trees surrounded by taller trees or in a dry ditch. Crouching with only your feet touching the ground and keeping your feet close together, wrap your arms around your knees and lower your head to minimize your body’s surface area. DO NOT LIE FLAT.
      6. Pay more attention to the lightning threat than the rain. It need not be raining for lightning to strike; lightning can strike far from the rain shaft.
    8. Individual/Team Activities
      1. The VPA sponsors several activities in which there are both individual and team competitions. These activities are: golf, gymnastics, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, cross-country, track (indoor and outdoor), and wrestling.
      2. Traditionally, the VPA has allowed student athletes who wanted to participate in these sports as individuals but attended schools that did not sponsor teams to practice with and participate through schools with teams. These student athletes would only participate as individuals. They could win individual awards, but their scoring would not count for any team.
      3. The purpose of this policy is to formalize this practice and establish regulations that are consistent with the VPA’s regulations.
    9. Rules Governing Participation In Individual Competitions
      1. To participate under this rule, a student athlete must be enrolled in a school that is a member of the VPA or be enrolled in a home study program in compliance with Title 16 V.S.A.
      2. Participation in this program is limited to the following sports: golf, gymnastics, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, cross-country, track (indoor and outdoor), and wrestling.
      3. Student athletes under this program may practice and travel with the school team.
      4. Student athletes under this program only participate as individuals. They may win individual awards, but their scoring will not count for any team.
      5. A student is ineligible for this program if his or her school maintains a team in the sport. A home study student is ineligible for this program if the school district in which he or she has a legal residence (or a school that the home study student’s town pays tuition to) has a team. Enrolled students and home study students should first be placed on their home school or hometown teams as participants.
      6. This program does not allow student athletes to select the school team at which they will participate. If the school district in which he or she has a legal residence does not have a team, the student athletes must participate on a team that is geographically closest to the student’s residence.
      7. The participating student must comply with all VPA regulations to be eligible to participate.
      8. The school where the student is enrolled and the school that is sponsoring the team must consent to the student athlete’s participation.
      9. The participating student must adhere to the same standards of behavior, responsibility and performance as the participants on the team. The participating student may be subject to the same discipline and sanctions as are applied to team members.
    10. Click here for all sports guides
    11. Sports Seasons
      1. The following is a list of sports and the seasons to which they have been assigned:
        1. Fall Sports Season — cross-country, field hockey, football and soccer.
        2. Winter Sports Season — basketball, cheerleading, dance, ice hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, skiing, snowboarding and indoor track.
        3. Spring Sports Season — baseball, golf, softball, track and field, tennis and lacrosse.
      2. Scheduling of Sports Seasons: The Activities Standards Committee shall establish the starting and ending dates for each of the sports seasons in accordance with this bylaw. The Activities Standards Committee shall also establish the length of the sports season for each activity. Should state tournaments or authorized regional tournaments be scheduled after the official close of any sports season, a team that is otherwise eligible may participate. The Activities Standards Committee shall schedule the seasons to maximize gender equity, the availability of appropriate sites and officials, and support for all competitions and tournaments.
        1. Fall: All fall sports for boys and girls shall start on the same date unless otherwise approved by the Activities Standards Committee. Tournament competition in any sport may be staggered, so that one gender starts and completes its tournament before the other gender.
        2. Winter: There shall be at least a one week break between the scheduled end of the Fall Sports Season, and the start of the Winter Sports Season. Tournament competition in any sport may be staggered, so that one gender starts and completes its tournament before the other gender.
        3. Spring: There shall be at least a one week break between the scheduled end of the Winter Sports Season and the start of the Spring Sports Season if possible. All spring sports shall start on the same date unless otherwise approved by the Activities Standards Committee. Tournament competition in any sport may be staggered, so that one gender starts and completes its tournament before the other gender. The Spring Sports Season shall end no later than the second Saturday in June, inclusive of all scheduled tournament dates.
      3. No school shall permit students to enroll in the winter activity until the fall activity in which they are participating is concluded and they have had the required rest period between sports seasons. No student shall enroll in the spring activity until the winter activity in which they are participating is concluded and they have had the required seven-day rest period between sports seasons. Students participating in state tournaments or authorized regional athletic activities are exempt from this rule if such participation prevents compliance.
    12. Out of Season Coaching Rule
      1. Definitions
        1. Out-of-season:all days during the school year, except for the season of the sport in question.
        2. Summer recess:from the last day of school to 10 calendar days prior to the start of the Fall season.
        3. Practiceformal meeting or direct instruction/training designed for the sport (this does not include organizational pre-season meetings).
        4. Coachdefined as a “paid” coach by either the school or a related organization (Boosters Club, etc.). Coaches who receive $1 contracts are not included in this definition.
      2. Out-of season (including, for all purposes in this section, to also encompass the time between sport seasons during the school year) practice is not permitted under the direction of a school’s paid instructor or coach, or student leaders. There shall be absolutely no practice during the school year out-of-season period for a particular sport (football and baseball currently have exemptions to this rule). Open gyms are allowed as long as an invitation is given to every student in the school and there is no instruction (coaching) of any kind).
      3. During the summer recess, all restrictions are rescinded. Local schools may determine to what extent the school, the coaches, and the students are to be involved in the “summer recess” program.
      4. Exception to out-of-season coaching restriction.
        1. Students should have the opportunity to voluntarily participate in out-of-season scholastic competition that does not interfere with educational development. The choice to participate in such activities should be truly voluntary. There should be no pressure placed on student athletes. Student athletes should have the opportunity to pursue a variety of activities. Student athletes who pursue a variety of activities should be protected from an unfair competitive disadvantage against those who may concentrate in one particular sport. This rule is intended to balance these important interests.
        2. A coach from a VPA member school may not coach athletes from his or her own high school or middle school program in the same sport out-of-season. The only exception to this restriction is the following: A coach from a VPA member school may instruct his or her child without any restriction.
        3. Student participation in out-of-season/summer sports activities should be truly voluntary. No student should be pressured, either directly or indirectly, to participate in out-of-season/summer sports activities. Any coach, instructor, or administrator who directly or indirectly pressures a student athlete to participate in out-of-season/summer sports activities shall be subject to sanctions, including suspension from coaching in any VPA sanctioned activities.
    13. Scrimmages and Jamborees
      1. Scrimmage:A scrimmage is defined as and intended to be a learning situation, not a competitive event. A scrimmage is a practice and shall be treated as such. Scrimmages have unlimited timeouts during which coaches are allowed to provide instruction. Scrimmage can be conducted under the following regulations:
        1. A team cannot play more than 20% of the maximum number of regular season games as scrimmages with other teams (schools) up to the conclusion of the regular season. Scrimmages are allowed in the post season and are not a part of the 20%.
        2. No admission shall be charged. While the public need not be denied admittance to a scrimmage, it shall not be played as a regular game.
        3. Scrimmages are not bound by length of game regulations, however individual players cannot exceed the playing time of a regular season game.
        4. A score is only to be kept by the quarter/period/inning/half and not as a regular game.
      2. Jamboree (or Round Robin):A jamboree is defined as a scrimmage in which a team engages two or more other teams. Schools are allowed to use the equivalent of 2 scrimmages at a jamboree/round robin.
    14. Cancelled Season RuleA school which cancels a sport after the official schedule has been established must forfeit wins to its remaining scheduled opponents unless this action takes place ninety (90) days prior to the start of the activity.
    15. Divisional AlignmentsThe Association may establish divisional alignments within the various activities. When a divisional alignment is being reviewed, the Assoc. Executive Director will send a notice to its member schools. The notice shall require that the member school submit to the VPA the count of its enrolled students as of October 15. The count shall be submitted on a form attached to the notice, in accordance with the directions set forth on the form.The Activities Standards Committee may solicit and consider advice from any source on the classifications, including committees for the various activities. It shall be the goal of the Activities Standards Committee to establish divisional classifications by February 1 for use in the following school year.Notice of the divisional classifications shall be sent by the VPA to the member institutions. Ordinarily, the notice will be sent by December or immediately after divisional classifications have been determined. Within fifteen days of the receipt of notice of the new divisional alignments, the member institutions may submit a request for adjusting the divisional alignment of the school. Requests to compete in a higher classification may be granted by the Assoc. Executive Director of the VPA. If the request to compete in a higher classification is denied by the Assoc. Executive Director, the request may be reviewed by the Activities Standards Committee or sports specific committee. The Activities Standards Committee or sports specific committee shall consider all requests to reduce the classification of any member school for any activity. Requests to reduce the classification will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The Assoc. Executive Director, the Activities Standards Committee and the sports specific committee shall endeavour to decide all requests for waivers or changes in a timely manner. Following such decision, the final classifications shall be provided to the member schools. It shall be the goal of the VPA to provide the final classification in as timely a manner as possible. The final classifications shall be employed in the following two school years.
    16. Protest Procedures
      1. School Sponsored ActivitiesUnfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings can and should be resolved between the Principals/Headmasters of the schools involved. If the Principals/Headmasters of the schools involved are unable to arrive at a resolution to the problem, a principal will:
        1. Notify the President of the league in writing, filing a copy with the Execute Director of the VPA.
        2. If the dispute is not league related, the Executive Director (or his/her designee) will be available to mediate the disagreement.
      2. VPA Sponsored ActivitiesIn all activities sponsored by the VPA, athletic and non-athletic, the following will be the procedure for handling protests and grievances:
        1. Any protest relative to any aspect, other than the actual activity, will be settled by the observer. Should there be no observer assigned or present the host administrator will make the necessary decisions.
        2. Any protest relative to the activity, will be settled by the chief official. If no official has been designated as chief official by the Council, the referee or the official so designated by the playing rules will be considered the chief official. In any athletic activity where protest procedures are provided in the playing rules these procedures will be followed. Only playing rules of the rule book/guide governing that activity being played are protestable.
        3. The director of any activity or the coach of any team desiring to lodge a protest during the actual activity or game must notify the chief official, referee, umpire, and the opposing coach that the contest is going on under protest. If a protest has not been as set forth in the rulebook or guide, no protest may be lodged.
        4. Should the principal of any school wish to appeal the ruling, based on the misapplication of a rule made by the chief official, observer or host principal, the Principal must contact the VPA office within 24 hours. The Executive Director/Associate Executive Director will conduct an investigation requiring written reports, if deemed necessary, and will render a decision.
        5. Any protest to be made of a decision by the VPA office shall be by telephone communication within twenty-four (24) hours. It will be the Executive Director/Associate Executive Director’s responsibility to contact the other members of the protest committee and to obtain statements from all concerned.The following will constitute the protest committee:
          1. The President of the Association
          2. The President-elect of the Association
          3. The Executive Director of the Association or his/her designee
          4. The Chairman of the Activities Standards Committee
          5. The Chair of the Sports Specific Committee involved
          6. Alternates shall be appointed by the President to serve in place of any of the principals listed above whose school is involved in the protest or grievance or who have any conflict of interest.
        6. The decision of the protest committee shall be final.
    17. Coaches Eligibility and Coaches Training Program
      1. The VPA believes that coaches should obtain proper training. Coaches play a critical role in the overall quality of the interscholastic activity program, the safety of student athletes, and the education of our children.
      2. A person shall be eligible to be employed as a coach in any interscholastic high school and/or middle level activity if the person satisfies all of the following conditions:
        1. The person’s appointment as coach must be approved by the local school district responsible for the member school in which the person coaches.
        2. The coach must be at least 18 years of age or a high school graduate at the commencement of the sport season for which the person has been appointed to coach.
        3. The coach must sign a statement acknowledging that he or she has read, understood and agrees to comply with and abide by all VPA bylaws and policies.
        4. The coach must successfully complete a NFHS Interscholastic Coaching Principles course, the NFHS Sports First Aid course and the NFHS Concussion Education course (this course must be completed immediately once a coach is hired and before the beginning of their first practice) or other comparable courses that must be approved by the VPA.
      3. A coach must complete training within one year (as determined by the start of that sports season) of his or her employment as a coach (with the exception on the concussion education course which must be completed immediately) (Required under 16 V.S.A. sec. 1431 (b)(3)(B).
        1. Coaches who have previously completed approved training but are not currently certified may continue in their positions; they must complete the approved training within seven years from the adoption of this bylaw.
      4. This by-law only applies to coaches who are under contract with a school or school district. It does not apply to volunteer assistants.
      5. The Activities Standards Committee may adopt a program requiring coaches who have completed the initial Coaching Education Program to periodically update their training in other courses that are approved by the Activity Standards Committee.
    18. Allowing Member School Students To Participate On Other Member School Teams (Member to Member Rule)Rationale – The Member to Member Program is designed to provide a short-term fix for a school with low participation and an opportunity for a student/athlete from another school(s) to participate on a team that a sending school does not offer.
      1. Member high school students may participate on another member high school’s team provided that the following criteria are met:
        1. Member high schools that are interested in developing a program must submit a written request for participation on another member school’s team to the VPA Associate Executive Director sixty days prior to the start of each sports season to allow adequate time for reviewing the application. The VPA will only approve requests that satisfy all of the criteria of this program. Requests submitted with less than a sixty-day notice will be considered and acted on as soon as possible.
        2. Priority to requests will be evaluated on the following criteria:
          1. Receiving school in the same county that has a demonstrated need for their program.
          2. Receiving school outside of the county that has a demonstrated need for their program and is within comparable distance from programs within their county
          3. Receiving school from within the county that has the desired program, but may not have need as based on the complement of players in section (j). If there are multiple receiving schools in the area, highest priority will go to the receiving school with the greatest need.
        3. As part of the application, there must be a written agreement between each participating school that has been approved by the respective principals and athletic directors. Receiving (or host) schools may enter into multiple agreements in a sport season, as long the total number of students does not exceed the 20% allocation of students from other member schools. Sending schools may enter into only one agreement per sport. The agreement must specifically authorize the participation in this program. (Changes in bold approved by VPA Activity Standards Committee 2/6/2015).
        4. The agreement must state that the schools have considered compensation from the sending school(s). Compensation could be in the form of an exchange of opportunities in other programs, or any other form that the schools agree to. If compensation is agreed to, the agreement shall describe the compensation. Financial compensation, if any, shall come from the school.
      2. Substantive Requirements:
        1. This program only applies to team sports (i.e., Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cheerleading, Dance, Field Hockey, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Ultimate and Volleyball). Students can continue to participate as individual competitors in all other sports under existing standards. Schools may enter into an agreement provided that no student/athletes have been cut at any level in that sport (cut meaning out of the program).
        2. The athlete(s) must meet all eligibility and student conduct requirements otherwise established by VPA rules and the involved schools.
        3. There must be no athletic recruitment of the student athlete. No coach, booster, or persons involved with the athletic department should directly or indirectly solicit students from other schools for this program. This means that a coach or school employee who receives a direct inquiry must immediately refer the inquiry to the appropriate school administrator.
        4. The sending school(s) may not offer the team sport in which the student wishes to participate. If a sending school has previously offered this team sport, they are ineligible to participate in this program for two years from the date the team was dropped.
        5. In sports which the VPA sanctions separate championships for boys and girls (Basketball, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse and Soccer), a student may request participation if the student’s school does not offer the sport to his or her gender. (All schools should provide athletic programs that provide appropriate opportunities to both genders).
        6. Schools involved in a Member to Member Agreement must be members of the VPA.
        7. There must be no displacement of student athletes from the receiving (host) school sponsoring the activity from spots on the team. Thus, the receiving school sponsoring the team must maintain a no-cut policy for the program in question, or have less than the normal complement of players required for a team who are enrolled in the sponsoring school. Students accepted under a Member to Member program may participate at any level of team that the receiving school offers.
        8. Two schools may reach an agreement for a particular sport before a season begins, however the agreement will not take effect until the first day of the sports season when it has been determined that there are available slots.
        9. Schools may enter into a Member-to-Member Program for sub-varsity teams as long as there is no displacement at the JV or freshman level.
        10. For purposes of this rule, the normal complement of players required for a team shall be the following for each of the listed sports:
          1. Baseball – 18
          2. Basketball – 12
          3. Bowling – 10
          4. Cheerleading (Winter) – 24
          5. Dance – 20
          6. Field Hockey – 20
          7. Football – 30
          8. Hockey – 24
          9. Lacross Boys – 20
          10. Lacrosse Girls – 22
          11. Soccer – 20
          12. Softball – 18
          13. Tennis – 10
          14. Volleyball – 14
          15. Ultimate – 20
        11. Students from sending schools shall comprise no more than 20% of the normal complement or team roster (if the school does not have the normal complement) for each team listed above. The maximum numbers are listed below. (Note – A team must go with the normal complement or team roster, whichever number is lower.)
          1. Baseball – 4
          2. Basketball – 2
          3. Bowling – 2
          4. Cheerleading (Winter) – 5
          5. Dance – 4
          6. Field Hockey – 4
          7. Football – 6
          8. Hockey – 5
          9. Lacrosse Boys – 4
          10. Lacrosse Girls – 4
          11. Soccer – 4
          12. Softball – 4
          13. Tennis – 2
          14. Volleyball – 3
          15. Ultimate – 4
        12. In the event that a sponsoring school receives more requests for placement on a particular team than are slots available, the sponsoring school will arrange a meeting with the sending schools for the purpose of conducting a blind random lottery. A school may not award the slots based on ability or peer pressure. Returning players are allocated one of the open slots if a new agreement is implemented. Returning players, from a previous year, from a sending school, can remain with a receiving school program through their graduation. If a receiving school decides not to renew a Member to Member program, players returning from the previous year may stay with the receiving school program and the sending school may enter into a new Member to Member program with another school for new players.Any players who are already participating in a Member to Member program will be able to remain with that program until their graduation. If that program no longer qualifies as a receiving school for the sending school, based on the new member to member policy, future players would participate with the new receiving school.
        13. Schools with a normal complement of players (as stated in item j.) may not enter into a Member to Member agreement unless there is no receiving school within a reasonable distance (county). A receiving school must then show that there is a need even if they have a normal compliment of players or the receiving school is the only available option. If there are multiple receiving schools in the area, highest priority will go to the receiving school with the greatest need.
        14. The sending school(s) and receiving school shall define all legal liabilities for student participants in the program agreement. This is including but not limited to: insurance, transportation and supervision.
      3. Evaluation & Divisional Alignment
        1. All agreements are one year in length and must be renewed annually.
        2. In establishing divisional alignments, the appropriate VPA committee shall consider any existing programs and their impact on fair competition. The VPA shall review the application with the appropriate sports committee and may revise the divisional alignment as a condition of approval if appropriate to preserve fair competition.
    19. Cooperative Team Rule and ProceduresRationaleOver the past several years the VPA has been asked on a number of occasions to revise its current Cooperative Team Policy. Schools felt that this policy was too restrictive and in fact, a true “cooperative team” has never existed in Vermont. With a significant decline in student enrolment being predicted in Vermont, the membership of the VPA felt that current policies governing student participation needed to be examined and perhaps modified to meet the needs of today’s schools and their students. As a result, a sub-committee was established to examine current VPA policies and recommendations were made to the VPA Activities Standards Committee. The following is a modified Cooperative Team Policy that has been developed by the Activities Standards Committee.
      1. Any proposal to form a new cooperative team must be in complete form and submitted to the VPA Activities Standards Committee at least six (6) months in advance of the beginning practice date for that sport.
      2. The Activities Standards Committee will examine all applications with the following foci:
        1. respect the goals of the petitioning schools.
        2. protect competing schools from competitive disadvantage.
        3. guarantee increased student participation.
        4. ensure that no displacement of athletes occurs.
        5. rest on a firm financial commitment by the schools involved to support a viable team.
      3. The Activities Standards Committee must then approve this application before action can be taken on the formation of this team.
      4. All cooperative team applications must contain a letter of acknowledgement from the league (or the scheduled opponents in the case of independent schools) they belong to (NVAC, MVL or CVL) that states that they are aware of the application being submitted.
      5. A proposal should demonstrate that the cumulative student participation in the combining schools will be greater under the cooperative program than it was during each of the previous two years. This requirement protects against cooperative programs being formed because of the withdrawal of financial support by any of the schools involved.
      6. The proposal should demonstrate that students who participated in the program during the previous year are guaranteed the opportunity to continue that participation under the cooperative proposal. If each school has a sufficient number of athletes trying out for a given sport to field a team, then a request for a cooperative team will be denied.
      7. No consideration will be given to cooperative proposals that result from the elimination of the sport due to financial cuts during the two years immediately prior to the request.
      8. Cooperative team proposals will only be considered if they increase the number of student participants, and will not be considered if they are driven by desire to “save money” at the risk of decreasing the number of potential student participants.
      9. The division to which the cooperative team is assigned will be determined by the combined student enrollment of the schools involved.
      10. A school may not send students to two (2) different cooperative programs in a single sport.
      11. One school will be the identified as the host for the cooperative team, however a waiver for playing games at additional sites (with another school(s) in the cooperative team) will be considered as long as the games at the additional site are identified when the cooperative team application is submitted for approval
      12. Cooperative team proposals must be limited to VPA member schools.
      13. Cooperative proposals will be granted for a two-year period.
      14. All liability associated with the formation and conduct of approved cooperative teams rests with the host school that exempts the VPA and its agents from all liability and responsibility.
    20. ProcessThe school involved in the development of a cooperative team must submit the following packet of information for consideration.
      1. Complete and submit the VPA Cooperative Team Letter of Application
      2. A description of the proposed cooperative team. This description needs to include information from items (b), (c), (e) and (h) from the Policy Requirements listed above and should reflect information on items to be considered in Section 6. Guidelines (below).
      3. A letter of acknowledgement from the league that the schools are currently in.
      4. A statement from each school involved in the proposal indicating that this proposal is not the result of withdrawal of financial support over the past two years.Once submitted, the cooperative team application will be heard at the next VPA Activities Standards Committee meeting. Schools will be required to attend this meeting in order to answer any questions the committee may have. Final approval or denial by the Activities Standards Committee will be done at this meeting.
    21. Guidelines (things to consider when developing a proposal)The principals of the schools involved in the proposed cooperative team need to assure the Activities Standards Committee that the following items were considered and have been resolved:
      1. A sufficient reason(s) for sponsoring a cooperative team.
      2. An appropriate name for the cooperative team.
      3. Suitable practice arrangements.
      4. Fair competitive arrangements.
      5. Safe and adequate transportation arrangements.
      6. Provisions for physical exams and medical coverage.
      7. Insurance provisions (required by the VPA)
      8. The setting and monitoring of academic standards for purposes of eligibility.
      9. The purchase, repair and maintenance of equipment.
      10. Source and control of finances.
      11. Guidelines for termination of the program.
      12. Use and maintenance of facilities.
      13. Selection, supervision and payment of coaches.
      14. Coordination of class/school schedules.
      15. Ticket prices and sales, disbursement of proceeds.
      16. Student spectator and fan control and supervision.
      17. Cooperative team identity (mascot, colors, uniform, etc.)
      18. Award policies (determining letters, etc.)
      19. Governance for the resolution of disputes.
      20. Identification of and rationale for, programs eliminated within the past two (2) years.
  • Policy on Middle School Athletic and ActivitiesThe Vermont Principals’ Association defines middle school as students who are enrolled in grades 5 – 8. The VPA believes that an understanding of the unique physical, psychological, emotional, and educational needs of all middle school children should drive all aspects of middle school education.The VPA believes that middle school sports should be kept in perspective. To that end, we concur with the National Middle School Association research summary on sports in middle school, which states: “Many positive benefits for young adolescents may result from participation in sports which can enhance their self esteem and increase their interest in sports. However, when young adolescents’ needs and interests become secondary to press ures and unreasonable expectations from coaches, parents and even themselves, sports often have the opposite effect. Young adolescent’s psychological well being should be a priority in developing middle school sports programs.”The VPA believes that every interested student be afforded the opportunity to participate in athletics and activities at the middle school level. Member institutions are encouraged to find creative ways and means for every middle school student to experience the personal growth and development that comes through active participation.