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Decision Number
In re Justin Moretti-Monpetit
Vanessa Bauer
Iowa High School Athletic Association
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Justin moved from Canada to live with his older sister and her family in the Linn-Mar Community School District. He attends the 12th grade at Linn-Mar High School. Justin's father died several years ago; Justin's mother continues to reside in the family home in or near Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He attended the equivalent of six semesters of high school in Canada. At the completion of 11th grade, Justin was awarded the accolade "best athlete." Justin was also then awarded a full football scholarship to attend Kent, a college preparatory school in Connecticut, his senior year, 2004-05. The scholarship was based on financial need, as well. A few weeks into school (and the football season) at Kent, Justin and two classmates were taken to dinner by the father of one of the classmates to celebrate a football game victory. At the invitation of the father, all consumed wine. The three students were all given the choice by Kent to withdraw from school or be expelled for violating school policy. Justin withdrew from Kent and returned home to his mother. Because the eight-semester rule is dispositive of this appeal, we do not decide whether Justin is ineligible under the general transfer rule.

Ms. Bauer does not dispute that Justin is now in his ninth semester of secondary school since he entered the 9th grade. Rather, she argues that extenuating circumstances exist to grant Justin eligibility for this school year. Contrary to Ms. Bauer's assertion that her brother "was denied his senior year," Justin's own actions caused him to leave Kent. Justin was nearly an adult when he made the informed decision to break that school's rule prohibiting the consumption of alcohol. The consequence was not the denial of his senior year, but the deferral of the same. That Justin may have trusted the wrong adult ? and we have only Ms. Bauer's testimony about the drinking incident ? does not negate the fact that he made a poor personal choice. He knew about Kent's zero tolerance rule before he made his choice. When this agency has waived the eight-semester rule in the past, it has been in situations beyond the student's control and unrelated to athletics. See, e.g., In re Joshua Owens, 20 D.o.E. App. Dec. 92 (2001) (student rotating nighttime residence due to instability of family, which provided no support to him); In re Shawn North, 8 D.o.E. App. Dec. 87 (1990) (unstable home life led to student going from home to home, in and out of school and working to support himself); In re Rob Olmstead, 10 D.o.E. App. Dec. 330 (1993) (examples cited of students hospitalized for extended periods of time because of accident or illness).

It is not appropriate for us to call this situation an extenuating circumstance. Justin was celebrating an athletic victory. He was aware that consuming wine was in violation of Kent's zero tolerance policy for athletes and other students. He was in control of his decision. We decline to add to the list of exceptions we have made heretofore to the eight-semester rule. This decision means that Justin has no eligibility remaining to participate in interscholastic athletics at any level this entire school year at any Iowa member school.

We note that a majority of courts, including the federal courts in Iowa, have ruled that there is no "right" to participate in interscholastic athletics [Brands v. Sheldon Community School, 671 F.Supp. 627 (N.D. Iowa 1987); Gonyo v. Drake University, 837 F.Supp. 989 (S.D. Iowa 1993)]. Therefore, it cannot be successfully argued that any student is harmed legally by his or her ineligibility to compete.

That the decision of the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association made on September 1, 2005, was affirmed.