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Out Here

Summer sports and public comments

Erie resident Gary Farral told the Erie school board in July that he was concerned that supposedly voluntary sports activities during the summer were, in fact, required. 

He said he had heard some coaches were punishing students by not allowing them to play during the season if they didn't show up at summer practices.

Farral's statements were recorded in the minutes of the July 23 meeting. 

The minutes showed no response from school district officials.

"We don't respond to public comment," Erie Superintendent Brad Cox told me in an interview. But he said Erie's summer sports activities were all voluntary, saying the district follows all Illinois High School Association rules. 

The association bars districts from mandating attendance at summer sports activities. This year, mandatory practices were allowed to start Aug. 8.

The Erie school board isn't the only one that chooses not to respond to public comment, but when residents allege violations, it would be nice if officials would speak up. 

In an interview, Farral, 65, told me he stands by what he said in July. But he added that Erie is far from alone in requiring attendance at summer practices.

"Here they are complaining about bullying, but they're teaching them we can bend rules or you won't get the opportunity to participate in athletics," Farral said. "It's institutional bullying."

Farral regularly attends school board meetings.

"At least they know my opinion," he said.

So, readers, what are your takes on summer sports activities and on whether public officials should respond to public comments made at meetings?

Discuss.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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