5 Metro Private Schools Are Suing The OSSAA, Saying Rule 14 Is 'Putting Student Safety At Risk'

Five metro private schools are suing the OSSAA, claiming that Rule 14 is putting their students at risk.

Thursday, December 7th 2023, 3:13 pm

By: News 9, Tevis Hillis


Depending upon specific criteria, private schools competing within the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association must level up regarding which sports division they fall into.

However, private schools want to challenge this rule, commonly known as Rule 14.

Five metro private schools are suing the OSSAA. They say rule 14 puts their students' safety at risk. "It puts our students in a situation where they can compete against some of the best in their own particular class division and creates a broader competitive atmosphere," said David Morton, the President and Principal of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.

 Morton says being a part of the OSSAA has benefits but adds Rule 14 directly discriminates against private schools.

 The Attorneys representing the five local private schools say that rule 14 appears neutral on its face if a school meets three of these four requirements.

  1. the school has the ability to decline admission or enrollment to a student, even if the student and the student's parents (or custodial parent or court-appointed guardian with legal custody of the student) reside within that school's public school district or designated geographic area;
  2. the school is located within a fifteen (15) mile radius of a school placed in the 5A or 6A classification according to ADM;
  3. fewer than twenty-five (25) percent of the children enrolled at the school in grades nine through twelve qualify for free or reduced lunches;
  4. the school's ADM in grades nine through 12 has increased by fifty (50) percent or more over the previous three school years.

 

And, if the teams continue to succeed, the school team must move up classes.

The attorneys add that it's impossible for public schools to fall under that category.

Most recently, OSSAA removed the cap on how many classes a school can move up, allowing small schools to move to 6A for sports they continue to succeed in. "Now you are competing against the largest schools in the state. Broken Arrow, which has over 5 thousand students, Jenk, Owasso, and Union," said Morton.

Currently, Bishop McGuinness has 700 students. According to OSSAA guidelines, they qualify for the 4A category. But they play football at 5A and soccer, swim, cheer, and golf all at 6A. "When you play a complete soccer match, and you are subbing students in or out or someone gets injured, we are at an extreme disadvantage. There is a numbers difference," said Morton.

The private schools are also concerned about a coupling stipulation that if a successful team is a successful boy's or girl's, then both boy's and girl's teams move up. "I think the lawsuit is needed to bring some of so there can be an opportunity to come to the table for greater discussion that will help private and public schools," said Morton.

 Earlier in the year, the Attorney General sent the OSSAA a cease-and-desist letter when the board began discussing forming a new post-season bracket just for private schools.

 News 9 reached out to the OSSAA for comment. 

https://www.oscn.net/dockets/GetCaseInformation.aspx?db=oklahoma&number=CJ-2023-6910&cmid=4260270

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