Father of charter school student fights MNPS sports mandate

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Last month, News4 talked to one parent frustrated that Metro Nashville Public Schools said charter school students like his daughter could no longer participate in middle school sports.

Since then, that father said he hasn’t got answers from the district or the school. So he spoke up at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

His daughter, 11-year-old Kaley Gardner, has been playing volleyball at home alone and is looking forward to getting involved at school when she starts sixth grade in the fall.

“I wanted to see new people and play with others,” Gardner said.

The soon-to-be Kipp Antioch College Prep student was signed up for volleyball camp this summer. Then last month, MNPS said charter school students could no longer participate in middle school sports leagues. So her father, Jon Hageman, addressed the school board Tuesday night in a speech that drew applause.

MNPS said charter schools have the resources to develop their middle school sports programs, but Kipp Nashville told parents the short notice does not give them enough time to get a program together for the fall.

“To say ‘in a couple of months, set up an entire league on your own. Then, we will meet and tell you how to do it.’ That seems small and petty,” Hageman said.

The district said this is being done so it can focus on improving its existing programs. At Tuesday’s meeting, Metro Schools recognized tennis and track and field students who recently won a state.

“I find it very ironic that my topic today follows the amazing representation we had of the young athletes and how they represented the city,” Hageman said.

Gardner said she wanted to play. “We finally get to do it, and now it is gone,” Gardner said.

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