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PARENTS OF NON-PUBLIC SCHOOL ATHLETES LOBBY BOARD

Parents of non-public school students Monday lobbied the West Seneca School Board to back the admission of Monsignor Martin Athletic Association schools to competition in the Section VI Public School Athletic Association.

But until the board learns more about the non-public schools' recruiting practices, it is unlikely to back the Section VI bid.

The board also sold 30 acres of vacant land and took the first steps toward closing a minor enrollment scam.

Two parents, Jack Maloney, whose daughter attends Mount Mercy Academy in South Buffalo, and Paul Knab, who said his children attend private schools, urged the board to make a policy decision on the Section VI issue to guide Superintendent Richard K. Sagar when school superintendents conduct their annual postcard ballot on this and other issues.

"There are 11 sections in the state, and only Section VI (greater Buffalo) does not involve non-public schools," Maloney said. As a result, those high schools' teams cannot compete in sectional and state championships.

"I'd urge the superintendent to vote no," said Paul Russo. "There are plenty of opportunities for them. They have their own agenda, their own championships. And if we want to schedule non-league competitions with parochial or private schools, we can. But they do recruit athletes (from public schools), and that's a real objection."

At the urging of Trustee James P. Sheehan, the board will amend its attendance policy to thwart parents who enroll their children in West Seneca schools but actually live elsewhere.

Sheehan objected to the proposed new language in the attendance policy, which says the district "may institute" action against such parents.

"It is a crime, and we should institute criminal action," he said. "The policy should also say we will seek fines if they are found guilty."

West Seneca charges $5,000 annual tuition to out-of-district students. Each year five to 10 students are found to be cheating the district of that money out of a total enrollment of 8,000.

"We do find out about them, eventually," said Brian Schulz, the district's fiscal officer. "Last year our chief bus driver discovered three kids being dropped off at a bus stop. They ducked into their grandma's vestibule and waited until the bus came, then dashed out. With Lackawanna and Buffalo on our borders, it's easy to see how some parents would want their kids in our suburban district."

State Education Law says that if a child "puts his head on a pillow four nights a week, he is considered a resident for educational purposes," Schulz added.

In other business, the board sold 30 acres of vacant land on North Drive for $87,738. The parcel, earmarked for school expansion in the southwest corner of West Seneca, is now cut off by Route 219 and is surplus.

A developer wants to subdivide it for single-family homes accessible via Abbott and Ridge roads.

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