A requirement that all student-athletes at El Diamante High in Visalia must enroll in a weight training and conditioning class has been eliminated by the school district.
The change is a victory for parents of students taking multiple AP classes and engaged in extracurricular activities. The mandatory weight lifting class was making it too difficult for students to take academic classes, participate in sports and extracurricular activities, do homework and sleep, parents said.
In a letter to parents last week, Visalia Unified Superintendent Todd Oto said the class no longer is mandatory.
No student will be cut from a team or denied playing time for not taking the class, he said. But student-athletes are expected to get weight training as part of their sport.
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Although the requirement for the weight lifting class will be eliminated, student-athletes will be expected to participate in weight training and conditioning with their respective coaches and team members.
Todd Oto, Visalia Unified School District superintendent
“Although the requirement for the weight lifting class will be eliminated, student-athletes will be expected to participate in weight training and conditioning with their respective coaches and team members, as scheduled by the coach of each specific sport,” the letter stated.
The new rule means “El D” now has the same rule as other high schools in Visalia.
(At Buchanan High in Clovis, strength training class is not required but “a high percentage” of student-athletes take it, Athletic Director James Gambrell said. “We value strength training for injury prevention,” he said.)
The issue emerged in Visalia last year when parents went to the school board to complain that students, particularly high achievers, were being forced to take weight training class during “pre-first” period before school.
Principal Angela Sanchez came up with a waiver for students carrying a full six-period academic load. But some parents complained that the coaches didn’t buy into it and pressured students to enroll in weight training anyway.
Parent Roland Soltesz, an attorney, sent a letter to the school district threatening to sue over the issue. He dropped a bomb by alleging Title IX gender equity issues.
The letter had the desired effect. Soltesz met with an administrator, and the policy got changed.
“I believe the school district is acting in good faith in starting to address the problems with El Diamante athletics,” Soltesz said.
In answer to the Title IX concern, a room dedicated to the football program at El Diamante is being opened to other teams and classes, Assistant Superintendent Tamara Ravalin said.
KETTLEMAN CITY: A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday in front of Kettleman City Elementary School for a Safe Routes to School project. Work will include curbs, gutters, sidewalks, roadwork and an in-pavement lighted crosswalk.
Project funding includes $637,000 from state and federal governments, and $600,000 from the Kings County road fund. Bush Engineering Inc. of Hanford is the contractor.