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A parent asked the Cleveland Hill School Board on Wednesday night to reconsider its policy of cutting students from district athletic teams.

Tonya Chavers, who has two sons in the district, told the board she came to an evening school event to find a seventh-grader crying in the hallway. The girl had just learned she was cut from the middle school basketball team.

Chavers commended the district for the recent evening events, which are intended to be more inclusive of students, parents and community members. But she said those efforts are diminished when some students are excluded from school in other ways -- namely, participating on school athletic teams.

"I don't know why a few kids have to go home feeling like they've just had their hearts ripped out, when it wouldn't cost the school a dollar to sit them on the bench, make them a manager, carry water or something," said Chavers.

Chavers, whose son is also trying out for the boys' middle school basketball team, told the board that athletics can and should be used as a motivator for the students.

School Board President Robert Polino said whether or not to alter the district's cut policy would be a decision for the athletic department director.

He explained that the policy was originally enacted because of the department's "philosophical" position that the teams are more easily managed, and better served, if team size is limited.

"It's always been our position to affect as many students as possible," said Polino. "But there are limitations as to how productive practices can be if you have too many kids to work with."

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