What Happens when School Districts Cheat on Enrollment Rules to Benefit Athletic Programs?

For years private schools have benefited from enrollment flexibility within CCS, that same flexibility is not afforded  to CCS public school members.  Since student enrollment has been at the heart of eligibility, competition and employment issues in both CCS and CIF for well over 30 years , it has clearly given private schools and their athletes an athletic advantage. This single issue has cost CCS member schools, families and athletes hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Coaches have been fired, students have been denied athletic opportunities and schools have been  burdened more by managing enrollment issues than any other single issue in high school sports.

Nancy Blaser has ruled on enrollment issues within CCS with an iron fist.  After notoriously stripping schools and students of eligibility on the basis of enrollment issues for the past 20 years , she appears to be suddenly deviating from her hard line position. Is the change based on her possible bias for private schools having been recently vetted , or because her youngest daughter is now graduating and Ms. Blaser no longer has a personal interest in gatekeeping kids that compete with or against her daughters?

Some say changes realted to enrollment issues in CCS are  long overdue and welcome, and they are. But what about those who are cheating now or those who were severely penalized before?  While the issue works its way through the long CCS process, what about the evidence Ms. Blaser has received in recent years related  to these very issues? How has CIF and CCS managed her potential conflicts of interest ?

While we applaud any new rules related to equitable opportunities and enforcement of enrollment of all athletes in CCS, we find the timing of this issue concerning. Just like concussion rules and policies, new rules  and policies related to  enrollment issues are long overdue. We wonder if such issues had been addressed sooner how many athletes and schools would not have been improperly denied athletic opportunities.

The rules remain  on the books, CCS should remember  its obligation to enforce all rules equitably until they are changed. If a school district is cheating on enrollment and recruiting, it is likely cheating other places as well.  If the  Commissioner’s conflicts of interest are not properly managed in one area, they are not likely properly managed in other areas.

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Academic and Athletic Cheating: How many schools in CCS may be implicated?

Gilroy Unified School District was recently thrown  into the national spot light  after a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution  revealed   that many standardized  test reports appear to be statistically improbably , indicating that cheating was more than  possible.  Congressional and criminal investigations have been launched as a well.  It would not be a leap  to assume that if cheating and  loss of integrity is  present in one area of our public institutions, it is likely present in others as well.

CIF and CCS have a long history of complaints related to equity and cheating in high school athletics. Many decisions and  rules made by these organizations appear to be  inequitable and unfair and continue to burden  individual student athletes.

Legal fees paid by both  CIF and CCS , and indirectly all member schools, may provide additional insight on this matter . As previously reported , the 2009 Santa Clara Country Grand Jury Report (http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/civil/cgj/2009/EducationDollars.pdf_)  blasted school district  use of public money for excessive administrative and legal fees. The report went on to note specific legal firms that had been paid by local school districts.  Among those were the firms Lozano Smith and Fagan , Friedman and Fulfrost.  Lozano Smith was at one time sanctioned for charging school districts excessive legal fees and  was subsequently  ordered by a court to attend ethics courses .  Despite this questionable background, many local school districts continued to retain Lozano Smith.

Lozano Smith has been  paid substantial  fees to represent  Campbell, Franklin , Fremont and San Jose Unified  school districts.  Los Gatos- Saratoga’s  website currently provides a link to an “Athlete’s Bill of Rights”  which is printed on Lozano Smith letterhead in an effort to inform families of their legal rights as they relate to athetics in high school sports.

After being sanctioned for ethics violations, an attorney from  Lozano Smith left and became a partner in the law firm Fagen, Friedman, and Fullfrost, which currently is the main counsel for CIF, CCS and continues to represent school districts including :

  • Fremont
  • Lakeside
  • Los Altos
  • Los Gatos
  • Los Gatos Union*

*The 2009 Grand Jury report noted Los Gatos Union alone  had paid Fagen,  Freidman and Fullfrost in excess of   $293,000 .

If  law firms with documented ethics violations are retained to oversee  legal affairs related to academics and athletics  for our local public schools , is it any wonder that ethics concerns are now emerging  in the districts  and organizations that use those firms?  Is it that much of a reach to think:  If there is cheating in sports ,  cheating in academics is likely present as well.