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Family of D.C. Football Player Denied Season Despite Eligible GPA Suspects Cover-up, Considers Lawsuit: ‘A Complete Runaround’

“His No. 1 goal for all of this is ultimately get into college for a good education, he rarely talks about the NFL, we rarely talk about the NFL,” said Shaun Powell Sr., who’s desperately advocating on behalf of his son to play high school football.

Throughout the 2022 football season, Shaun Powell Sr. and his son, Shaun Powell Jr., 16, have been fighting to play football during his junior year, but a discrepancy with his GPA has put his football plans on hold.

“They’re giving me the runaround, saying they’re using this secondary grading system that’s within their policy, but when you use that scale, it doesn’t make his GPA lower, it actually makes it higher because the school he came from, the grades are more rigorous than D.C. public schools,” said Powell Sr.

Shaun Powell Jr.’s grade point average has become the point of contention for the teenager. To play, he needs at least a 2.0 GPA, a C average. When Powell Jr. transferred from Brunswick Academy, a D.C. area private school, into Eastern High School over the summer before the 2022 school year, his GPA was recalculated by Washington D.C.’s public school system (DCPS).

The GPA recalculation left Powell Jr. ineligible to play football because DCPS deemed his GPA at 1.87, much lower than the expected 2.03 his father expected. Within Brunswick Academy, the grading scale puts Powell Jr.’s 79.66 within the C range which spans 77 percent to 84 percent; however, within the D.C. Public School system the C-range spans 70 percent to 79 percent.

Powell Sr. says the D.C. Interscholastic Athletics Association and D.C. Public Schools overruled the Eastern High calculation of Powell’s GPA and unaccountably downgraded it to a 1.87, the opposite of what should have been done.

“We’ve asked for numerous sit-down meetings, just me and my wife and I face to face, no meetings, we’ve asked for policies and procedures that gives DCPS authority to even recalculate grades, and nothing, it’s just a complete runaround,” Powell Sr. said in frustration.

Powell suspects someone from another school kickstarted the controversy, as Powell’s residency was first called into question. “Another team put in a protest for residency, so it started off that we weren’t residents of D.C. so when they found that not to be true, they went into this whole thing about his GPA,” Powell said.

The regular 2022 high school football season ends in mid-November, and Powell feels time is running out. He moved his son to the public school to boost his chances at getting scouted by a Division I school. He says the school district has not provided him clear answers on their calculation process, so he has acquired help from local attorneys and a city councilmember.

Vincent Gray, a sitting member of the D.C. City Council, sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Oct. 24 asking her to step in and resolve the issue while there is still time for Powell to take the field.

Gray’s letter to Mayor Bowser says, in part, the D.C. Interscholastic Athletics Association student eligibility requirements state on the website, a GPA of 2.0 or higher in most recently completed academic term” qualifies a student to play school sports.

The councilman also suggested he is considering legislation stripping DCPS and DCIAA of their ability to recalculate GPAs and claimed their current process “lacks transparency.” Atlanta Black Star reached out to Mayor Bowser’s office for comment on the matter but did not receive a response.

A spokesperson for DCPS told Atlanta Black Star the district had no comment, citing this as a personal matter, and the district already informed Powell’s family on the appeal process to the GPA recalculation, which was denied on Oct. 18.

Powell Sr. says the endless cycle of no clear answers leaves him to believe a cover-up is at play. “It’s like this cover-up that covers up the cover-up because they don’t want to admit their mistake,” he said.

Edwin Weathersby II, assistant commissioner for the CIFSF and sports columnist, has scouted for NFL and college football recruits over the years. He described in a Bleacher Report article a scout’s take on how college football recruits are evaluated, saying, “Many programs subscribe to some kind of recruiting service that gives them a list of thousands of players’ names in January and February of each year.”

With the season ending and Powell Jr.’s inability to step foot on a DCPS football field, the quarterback/cornerback’s chances of being recognized will be left to his senior year alone.

Powell Sr. says his son currently holds a 3.7 GPA, so his eligibility to play should not be called into question for the upcoming season.

“If I knew my son didn’t have the minimum GPA to participate, I wouldn’t be pushing this issue. I would hold him accountable and say, ‘Hey, son, get your grades up.’ It’s not like he doesn’t know this, but if I know my child is right, and everyone is telling me my child is right, how can the DCPS tell me we are wrong?” Powell said of his son’s previous GPA meeting minimum requirements to play.

Powell Sr. says he is considering legal action against the school district, although no lawsuits have been filed at this time.   

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