NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TN Tribune) — Local middle school students who attend charter public schools will play organized sports this fall, as part of the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association

Charter schools will offer the same sports programs as in previous years, but as members of a different organization. This follows the decision by Metro Nashville Public Schools to no longer allow middle school students attending charter schools to play sports alongside their peers who attend Nashville’s traditional public schools. In Tennessee, a charter school is a public school, free and open to all local students, but managed directly by a nonprofit organization, instead of school district employees. 

“Access to athletics and sports teams during these formative years helps students build self confidence, resilience, work ethic, and positive social connections, so it was incredibly important for us to find a way to keep these programs accessible to students enrolled in charter public schools this fall,” said Laurie Brown, Senior Vice President of Nashville Advocacy for the Tennessee Charter School Center. “We are grateful to TMSAA for opening their arms to our students, and we are excited for a great school year ahead.”

Shortly before the end of the school year, MNPS officials notified charter middle schools that they could no longer participate as members of the district’s middle school athletics association, or establish co-ops for facilities or teams with district-managed schools. The affected middle schools include those managed by seven nonprofit operators: RePublic, Martha O’Bryan, LEAD, Nashville Classical, KIPP Nashville, STRIVE Academy, and STEM Prep. Each of these charter school organizations serve a majority of economically disadvantaged students and students of color.  Starting in the new school year this fall, athletic directors at these schools will work together to share sports facilities and practice space so that each school can continue offering the sports programs they have in the past. 

“While we had to move quickly to form a new partnership with a different organization, we are actually able to expand the number of schools we partner with as a result, including surrounding county schools, giving our students more competition to improve their skills,” Brown said. “Because TMSAA is managed directly by the TSSAA, our students will also receive exposure to and an increased alignment with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), the organization they will play in when they get to high school.” 

Families with additional questions should reach out to the athletic directors or individual coaches at their schools. As in previous years, charter schools will continue offering the following sports: 

Girls Soccer
Cheerleading and Dance
Boys Basketball
Girls Basketball
Boys Wrestling
Girls Wrestling
Boys Track
Girls Track
Boys Soccer