AURORA -- Students who are not regular attendees in Aurora schools can now participate in theater productions and interscholastic sports, music and forensics competitions under a new policy adopted by the Board of Education on March 20 after a 4-0 vote.

Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli said the new policy, required by the state, is aimed at making charter schools more palatable choices for students by making activities available to them that are not offered at the charter schools.

"We are just complying with what are now the guidelines," he said. "There's been a lot of changes in the law to promote school choice and factors relating to school choice, such as extracurriculars."

One section allows non-Aurora residents attending Aurora private or charter schools potentially to take part in Aurora schools' interscholastic sports and extracurricular activities.

Ciccantelli said there are two specific conditions that must be met before a non-resident student can be permitted to participate in Aurora activities.

First, the charter school the student attends must not offer the activity the student wants to participate in at Aurora. Second, that student must be far enough from home that it's not possible to make it back to the district of residence to participate in the activity in that district.

"There are a lot of hoops to jump through," said Ciccantelli, adding each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Take, for example, a student who might want to participate in an orchestra program. Only if that student's charter school in Aurora does not offer an orchestra program and the student can't get back to a home district in time for rehearsal would that student be eligible to participate in Aurora's program, according to Ciccantelli.

If a student passes that eligibility standard, Ciccantelli said his or her participation in an Aurora activity is subject to his approval, as well as that of the charter school leader and superintendent of the student's home district.

He said he believes it will be "rare" for students to seek participation in Aurora activities under these conditions.

The policy was developed as a way of helping charter school students participate in activities in rural areas where schools are long distances apart. In those situations, a student may be more likely to attend a charter school a long way from their home district and be unable to make it back to the home district for practices and rehearsals, he explained.

Students who reside in Aurora and attend a private or charter school also have the ability to partake in Aurora interscholastic sports and activities, according to a new section of the policy governing "athletics and extracurricular activities."

"Resident students enrolled in community schools, a STEM school, nonpublic school or on home instruction, in accordance with state law, are permitted to participate in the district's extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, at the school to which the student would be assigned," states the policy.

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