Carpool policy impacts sports

No price on safety

Between the South and North Campus, Minnehaha Academy owns most of the facilities used for sports year-round except for a swimming pool, skiing hill, golf course and softball and baseball fields. For these sports, it’s more of a challenge to get where they need to go. In the past, upperclassmen with cars drove their teammates to South Campus or other close athletic facilities because it was easy, helpful and convenient for everybody. But was that a suitable way of transportation?

“Minnehaha Academy has a policy in place that students cannot drive other students to or from practices, games or meets that originate from school,” said Bonnie Anderson, director of human resources. “There are buses provided between campuses after school to get to practices at another campus or location. If parents elect to plan carpooling arrangements on their own when originating from home to attend a game or meet that is the decision of the parents.”

Is it financially worth taking a bus to practice every day?

“Minnehaha Academy has always provided buses to transport students to and from away games, meets or practices off campus,” said Anderson. “We will continue to emphasize our expectations which may in fact increase need for buses. The decision about cost is something that the administration of Minnehaha deals with every day and will continue to determine how this and other expenses of running a school are to be allocated.”

Because of the recent enforcement of this rule, Minnehaha now has a bus for the softball and baseball players who don’t have a car to get to Fort Snelling for practice every day. This bus also goes to South Campus to pick up middle school softball players as well which makes the drive to practice much longer than with carpooling. High school students have carpooled for a long time so why do we have a policy now?

“This policy is not new,” said Anderson, “but perhaps being enforced more consistently across sports due to increased communication about the expectations to all coaches, captain parents, etc.”

Senior softball captain Nessie Toye has her own opinion.

“I think [the policy] makes sense and is definitely more safe, but it is really expensive and somewhat of a hassle.”

Toye understands it is a hard situation to deal with but still thinks carpools are safe and easy. So why is it so important to stay away from student carpools?

“My initial thoughts are that the need to move away from carpooling is primarily due to a liability issue,” said director of athletics Homar Ramirez. “Insurance companies, laws and potential lawsuits have contributed greatly to the elimination of carpools, especially when a student is driving. As a result, the school has taken on the burden of scheduling and paying for transportation.”

Ultimately, safety is the most important thing to focus on.

“Bottom line,” said Anderson, “the purpose of not letting students drive other students is simply one we believe to be good practice in keeping our students safe while involved in school activities.”



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