HCSD is currently a member of the Southeast Iowa Super Conference [hereinafter "SEISC'] since its inception in 1992. As a result of declinin enrollment, HCSD has smaller team sizes than many of the other schools in SEISC. For the 2014-2015 school years, estimated enrollment for HCSD for grades 9-11 is 53. HCSD has not been competitive in SEISC for several years and as a result, many students choose not to participate in athletics or open enroll out of the district. HCSD maintains it cannot successfully compete with other schools in SEISC that are larger in size and have more student athletes than HCSD.
After a showing of overwhelming support from the district and students, in the spring of 2014 HCSD petitioned for membership into BGC. BGC's Board denied HCSD's membership petition. On April 17, 2014, HCSD filed a Petition with the Department requesting conference realignment for the 2015-2016 school years.
The Department scheduled a hearing for July 9, 2014, at which time HCSD, BGC, and other interested schools appeared and presented their opinions an testimony regarding the recommendation of the Mediation Team. The Mediation Team's recommendation was accepted by BGC. However, HCSD did not accept the recommendation. The parties were each given an opportunity to provide evidence or testimony in support of their perspective positions.
The Department's past precedent on petitions for athletic realignment is clear. Absent some showing that the mediation team failed to consider one or more factors in the rules and absent some proof that the mediation team was biased, prejudiced, or predisposed, the Department is to implement the team's recommendation.
The Department agrees with the Mediation Team's recommendation. In particular, the Department finds that the significant increase in travel for all teams in the respective conferences, including HCSD, and the impact this would have on schools and students from a financial sense and educational perspective cannot be ignored.
It is the decision of the Department to affirm and adopt the June 5, 2014, Recommendation of the Mediation Team. HCSD shall remain a member of SEISC. This decision provides HCSD membership into an appropriate conference that is the least disruptive HCSD and to the other schools in BGC.