Private schools allowed to join Virginia High School League

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, May 23, 2015

A settlement between the Virginia High School League and Liberty Christian Academy of Lynchburg stating that non-boarding private schools in Virginia are now permitted to apply for membership in the VHSL has prompted discussion among schools in Western Tidewater.

The terms were approved on Thursday, May 7, and announced this past Wednesday after a special meeting at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville.

“The VHSL is gratified to reach an agreement in this case, and we are excited to focus our attention on meeting the league’s mission of service to its member schools and providing lifetime opportunities for students through participation in sports and academic activities,” VHSL Executive Director Ken Tilley said in a press release.

Liberty Christian Academy will join the league — which oversees athletic and academic competitions at more than 300 public schools across the commonwealth — in August 2015, and will compete athletically against member schools in the Seminole District. The program will be immediately eligible for postseason play in Conference 23 and Region 4A West.

“LCA is very pleased with this resolution which we believe will benefit all high school students and their families in Virginia,” Liberty Christian Academy Superintendent John Patterson said in the same release. “We very much look forward to becoming a member of the Seminole District.”

Under the terms of the agreement, any private school that joins the VHSL must meet the same individual participant eligibility requirements and regulations as public schools students meet. Specifically, the transfer rules from one member school to another are more stringent than when a students transfers to a private school or non-member school.

The settlement does not seem to affect local private schools, as the athletic directors for Southampton Academy and Isle of Wight Academy said that they will continue to play in the Virginia Colonial Conference, formerly the Virginia Commonwealth Conference, and METRO Conference, respectively.

“It was mentioned at the last Eastern Regional State meetings,” Southampton AD Dale Marks said, “but it hasn’t been discussed at Southampton Academy.”

Isle of Wight AD Dale Chapman echoed those sentiments, and added, “The Virginia High School League goes by several different rules and regulations that the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association and our conference doesn’t have to abide by, so at this point, we’re not interested in joining.”