Weber School District changes athlete transfer rules for opening of West Field High School
Weber School District has changed its policy regarding transfers and athletic eligibility related to the opening of West Field High School in the community of Taylor, walking back a previous policy that was released last month.
The updated policy, finalized last week and in effect only for the 2024-25 school year, now only applies to current 10th- or 11th-grade athletes affected by boundary changes whereas the previous, now-defunct policy allowed for more widespread transfers between the four affected WSD high schools.
The new policy also removes a four-month “transfer window” which would’ve granted immediate, broad eligibility in high school sports to potential transfer students in certain circumstances.
“Fremont, Roy, Weber, and West Field high school students should receive athletic eligibility with no restrictions at their new boundary school even if they have established first entry at their current school,” reads part of the updated policy. “This should be considered the same as a full family move. Once the choice is made and eligibility is established the UHSAA transfer rule comes into effect.”
For example, a family that currently lives in the part of Roy High’s boundary that will be in West Field’s boundary next school year already had the choice to send their students to either school, and such student-athletes would be immediately eligible at whatever school they chose in that situation.
It applies the same way for families in the part of Fremont High’s boundary that will go to West Field and the part of Weber’s boundary that will now go to Fremont.
The deadline for those decisions was Nov. 30, so families in boundary-changed areas should have already declared which school their student will attend next academic year. That deadline allowed the district to properly staff its schools next year. In theory, future boundary exceptions could result in more transfers between schools.
There was one portion of the previous policy that drew contention and prompted questions from officials at multiple affected schools, as well as school board members, and ultimately forced the district to walk back its initial policy.
It stated that students at Fremont, Roy and Weber would be able transfer and immediately be eligible in the following circumstances: Fremont to Weber, Fremont to West Field, Weber to Fremont, and Roy to West Field.
That implied anyone, regardless if they were affected by a boundary change or not, could transfer in the above circumstances and immediately be eligible to play sports next school year, which essentially would’ve been a free-for-all for potential transfers between the four schools.
That is no longer the case in the updated policy.
Another portion of the previous transfer policy stated that students had from Jan. 4 to May 4, 2024, to transfer with no restrictions in the aforementioned circumstances. That window has also been removed in the updated policy.
The UHSAA approved the first version of Weber School District’s policy, according to UHSAA assistant director Jeff Cluff. A couple weeks later, UHSAA and district officials spoke again once questions had arisen.
Part of the issue was WSD, in making the first version of the policy, used a template of a similar transfer policy between Lehi and Skyridge high schools that was in place when Skyridge opened back in 2016.
“As we talked through and they had some questions and they said, ‘OK, that’s not gonna work with four schools, that works with two.’ Basically, the changes are that any kids affected by the boundary are the only kids that have a choice at what school they go to,” WSD assistant director of secondary education Matt Williams told the Standard-Examiner on Thursday.
Remaining parts of the transfer policy state that “any other student who receives a boundary exception to enroll at a Weber School District School and who has established their UHSAA eligibility at another member school is subject to the UHSAA transfer of eligibility rules and must work with that organization to transfer their eligibility.”
Also, any students affected by a boundary change who don’t participate in a UHSAA-sanctioned activity who want to return to their previous school can do so with no penalty to their athletic eligibility, as long as they haven’t tried out for said sport. For example, a Fremont student who plays baseball can go to West Field, but then come back to Fremont and keep baseball eligibility as long as they haven’t tried out for baseball at WF.
If, say, a Fremont student who plays volleyball goes to West Field, tries out for volleyball there but then wants to come back to Fremont, they could change schools but would lose volleyball eligibility at Fremont for one season (but not for other sports).
West Field, which is scheduled to open for the 2024-25 school year, is being built as part of a 2021 voter-approved bond for new school construction in the high-growth western part of Weber County. West Field’s school boundary draws from the current boundaries of Fremont and Roy.