LHSAA redefines ‘select’ school, SW Louisiana reaction mixed

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 3, 2022

By Warren Arceneaux

American Press

After years of principals voting down changes to the sports landscape, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Committee took a shot at it Thursday, changing the definition of “select” schools and bringing them back to state championship events.

The moves will take place next school year. The new definition of select school now reads “Lab schools, magnet schools, schools with magnet components, charter schools, parishes that allow open enrollment at all its public schools and tuition-based schools.“

Parishes with open-enrollment policies may change them this month in order to again be non-select schools.

Locally, Washington-Marion (magnet school) and Lake Charles College Prep (charter school) will move into the select school category. Cameron Parish schools — South Cameron, Hackberry, Johnson Bayou and Grand Lake — would also move for now since the parish uses an open-enrollment policy.

W-M Principal Ronnie Harvey said he disagrees with the move, will appeal the decision and is in the process of gathering information about why the school is considered select.

“I think it is because ‘magnet’ is in our name, but we are not a true magnet school,” he said. “We have students that come from other schools to take career classes here, but those kids don’t do anything else for us. They don’t count towards our enrollment and they don’t play sports for us. They are here for two hours.

“I respect the LHSAA and their decision but I have to be the voice for our students. When you look at it, it would be hard for us to compete when we can’t pull outside students like those other schools can.”

Harvey said he will discuss the move with his coaches.

“I’m going to call a coaches meeting to see what they think, how the move affects them,” he said. “But I’m still trying to get more information about why we were moved to begin with.”

Thursday’s move would create an almost 50/50 split between select and non-select schools and is the most significant change made since principals voted in 2013 to split public and schools for playoffs. Eighty-nine schools would be moving from non-select to select schools, leaving 207 non-select schools and 198 select schools.

Several attempts at change, including reuniting all the schools, allowing successful programs to move up, dividing schools along rural/metro lines and applying a multiplier to select schools for classification purposes, have all been voted down.

Lake Charles College Prep Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Freddie Harrison said the move doesn’t change anything at the school.

“Lake Charles College Prep’s first priority is academic excellence,” he said. “We foster student-athletes with a heavy emphasis on the word ‘student.’ Lake Charles College Prep will accept any decision made by the LHSAA governing body. As we often see in our academic programming, change is inevitable, and athletics is not immune to new shifts.”

In the other notable change, select and non-select schools will once again play at the same championship events next school year. For the past three years football and basketball have hosted separate championship events. Baseball and softball played separate events this season as well.

If the changes are unpopular, they can be voted out by principals at their annual January convention. They would remain in place throughout next school year, but new rules would go into effect for the 2023-24 school year.