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PIAA plan would limit athletics at charter schools

Updated: Monday, April 7 2014, 10:52 PM EDT

By: WJAC Web Staff and The Associated Press

HARRISBURG -- A plan that would limit athletic programs at charter schools is getting a cool reception from lawmakers.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association told a legislative panel Tuesday that many member schools claim that some charters are using their unique status to build "all-star" boys' basketball teams that public schools can't fairly compete against.

PIAA director Bob Lombardi proposed legislation requiring charter-school students to play on public-school teams in their home districts unless the sport is offered only by the charter school and not by the public school.

Charter-school advocates strongly oppose the idea, arguing that interscholastic sports are part of the learning experience.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, of Jefferson County, who's on the special PIAA panel, said athletics and academics are both important and that students' interests must come first.

One such school that has come under criticism is Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Beaver County, outside of Pittsburgh.

The Lincoln Park boys basketball team defeated Johnsonburg 96-47 in the first round of this year's PIAA class A playoffs and went on to defeat Forbes Road 81-28 in the second round and Bishop Carroll in the semifinals 70-28.

PIAA plan would limit athletics at charter schools

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