WCPSS stands firm on barring star tennis student from signing day: 'No changes'

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Thursday, May 23, 2024
School district will not let star tennis student from signing day
As Lisa Kranec approaches a day she's dreamed of her whole life, she's prepared for disappointment.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Lisa Kranec approaches a day she's dreamed of her whole life, she's prepared for disappointment.

The high school star is one of the top tennis recruits in the state, and she's going on to play Division 1 tennis for Elon University on a full-ride scholarship in the fall. It was a dream come true to get to play at such a high level, and she couldn't wait to be part of her high school's signing day ceremony to celebrate the achievement with her school and community.

Then she learned she would be barred from participating from the long-standing academic tradition.

The Green Hope High School student led her school's tennis team to the state championship in her junior year, even being named one of the team's MVPs. By her senior year, she knew her demanding college recruitment schedule would overlap too much with her high school season for her to be able to make the minimum number of matches. She committed to Elon in November, after the high school tennis season had finished.

Green Hope High School informed Kranec weeks in advance that she would not be able to take part in signing day because she didn't play tennis for Green Hope her senior year, saying it's school policy that students need to be current athletes to participate. Kranec and her parents asked the school and district to reconsider, but they refused.

"Signing day symbolizes a celebration of unity with all the students, friends, and athletes as they transition to college, proudly upholding Green Hope's name and reputation. Instead of being proud of their remarkable student-athletes, Green Hope introduced a new policy to sow division and to differentiate between student-athletes who made the same contributions and the same commitments to Green Hope," Lisa's mom Lorena Bociu told ABC11, adding that she believes this policy promotes exclusion and division.

Her family spoke to ABC11 on Wednesday night, ahead of Thursday's signing day ceremony, about their frustration over the way the school and district have handled this situation.

"We're feeling kind of very disturbed and appalled by the response of the administration and the lack of accountability, the lack of transparency," Bill Kranec, Lisa's father, told ABC11.

Their concerns center around the fact that they have not been given a clear reason why this policy exists in the first place, and the school has yet to answer many of their questions. The Kranecs have also looked over the policies for other Wake County High Schools and have yet to find a similar policy in writing, though the district insists that it's standard practice to bar students from participating in signing day if they are unable to compete their senior year.

The boys' tennis team does not face similar conflicts because their season is in the spring, so it does not interfere with their ability to play the sport for the high school team.

Given one word to sum up their experience with the school, Lisa and her parents chose "appalled, disappointed, dismayed."

When ABC11 reached out to the district to find out if the school would reconsider their policy after a petition started gaining traction to allow Lisa to be a part of the ceremony, we received a two-word response: "No changes."

Lisa is aware of a handful of other students at her school who are being excluded from signing day for similar reasons, there's even one student who is refusing to participate out of solidarity for those being excluded.

Her family has a message for them: "Please know that Green Hope's exclusionary policy is not representative of our community's values. We stand for equity and inclusion. We believe that you should all be celebrated along with your peers. We are very proud of your accomplishments, and we wish you all the best in all your future endeavors."

Lisa also brought up that this policy would also bar students who experience an injury in their senior season or are unable to compete for family reasons. She played for one season at the high school, leading them to the state championship. If another student plays their sport for a single season, regardless of success, and it happens to be their senior season, the policy will allow them to participate in the ceremony.

It's about more than being a part of this tradition for the Kranecs at this point, it's about the uphill battle they've faced in voicing their concerns over a policy to school officials and a lack of transparency over why the policy exists.

The Kranecs are also grateful for the amount of community support they've received. They're still hopeful the school will change its policy for future athletes, so every high school athlete who competes at some point for their school and commits to play collegiate athletics will have the opportunity to be celebrated alongside their peers.

Our previous coverage included a statement from WCPSS on why Green Hope High School was denying Lisa the opportunity to be a part of Signing Day:

"All our schools deeply value and celebrate the achievements of all students, including those with athletic pursuits. The signing day ceremony is designed to honor student-athletes who have made a commitment to play intercollegiate sports at the next level. The criteria for participating in this ceremony are communicated to all families at the beginning of each year.

To be eligible for the Signing Day Ceremony at Green Hope High School, student-athletes must meet the following requirements:

  1. The student-athlete has signed or is signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI) or has committed to play intercollegiate sports.
  2. The student-athlete is a current Green Hope Athlete in good standing, as determined by their head coach.
  3. The student-athlete will be attending and participating in an intercollegiate activity at the Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, or Junior College level.

"We understand and appreciate the dedication and hard work that all our students put into their activities, both academic and extracurricular. While the signing day ceremony specifically honors those student-athletes who are moving on to collegiate sports, we offer numerous opportunities throughout the year to recognize the diverse achievements of our student body. These include awards ceremonies, academic recognitions, and various school-wide events that celebrate the unique talents and contributions of every student.

We encourage all students and families to continue to engage in these opportunities for recognition and to celebrate the myriad ways our students excel. Green Hope High School remains committed to fostering an environment where every student feels valued and acknowledged for their accomplishments."