Debate over high school
surf teams set for today
A state Board of Education meeting to discuss whether surfing should be recognized as a sport in public schools has been moved to 3 p.m. today at the BOE committee room because of a board reorganization.
The Student Services Committee, which was considering the surfing issue, was merged with the Special Programs and Adult Education committees. Committee Chairman Sherwood Hara said that as a result of the formation of the Committee of the Whole on Special Programs, the meeting on surfing was moved up two weeks from the original Sept. 16 meeting.
Iris Gonzales, a Kahuku High School teacher and the coach of the surf club at Kahuku High School, said she has been scrambling to notify people scheduled to testify, including Gov. Linda Lingle, physicians and attorneys, since she found out about the date change on Thursday.
"It's just a bummer," she said. "It's an inconvenience for everyone. I had everyone ready for the 16th."
Gonzales said the governor is on Maui, but she is still hopeful someone from the Governor's Office will be able to testify in support of the measure. She said some of the doctors and lawyers she had set up to testify are trying to rearrange their schedules.
Hara said that after hearing testimony today, the committee will discuss the measure and could decide to forward the proposal to a full board meeting, kill it or defer action.
Presently, the Department of Education does not recognize surfing as a sport on a team or club level. Surf clubs exist at public schools, but they cannot use the name of the school or school mascot in competitions.
Supporters say surfing is a sport that has the same benefits as any other athletic competition and should be recognized, especially in its birthplace. Opponents, including Superintendent Pat Hamamoto and many athletic directors, say adding surfing as a sport will cost as much as $2.67 million per season and expose the state to lawsuits.
The Committee of the Whole on Special Programs is also taking up the relationship between the Department of Education and athletic associations and will discuss using local products in school lunch and breakfast programs.