The District seeks reversal of a decision that the IHSAA Board of Control made on September 9, 2014, finding that Harris-Lake Park Community School District student Thor L. is ineligible to compete in varsity interscholastic athletics for 90 consecutive school days under the provisions of the general transfer rule, 281?IAC 36.15(3). The District urged the IHSAA to grant Thor immediate eligibility to participate in interscholastic athletics on the grounds that his father kicked him out of the residence they had shared for several years, and Thor had nowhere else to go but to his mother's residence.
This appeal is about whether the facts of Thor's case fit an exception in chapter 36. There is no specific exception to be applied here. Accordingly, the General Transfer Rule includes a "catchall" subrule that the IHSAA and its Board are compelled to use when a student's transfer does not fit any of the specific exceptions to the rule. The analysis comes down to whether the Board abused its discretion is deciding that an exception should not be granted to Thor.
When exercising its discretion under subrule 36.15(3)"a"(8), the Board is still required to consider the motivating factors for the student transfer. The fact is that Thor was kicked out of his father's residence. This is not the case in which to determine whether one parent's lack of income is an exceptional circumstance.It was error for the Board to make a decision based on lack of danger of immediate and identifiable irreparable harm to Thor. No such language is in any part of the General Transfer Rule. The applicable subrule required the Board to render an eligibility ruling "which it deems to be fair and reasonable" after "[considering] the motivating factors for the student transfer."
Thor L. did not move or transfer schools for financial reasons. He did not move in with his mother to Harris-Lake Park Community School District either for the purpose of participating in athletics or even for the specific purpose of attending school. Thor's father had precluded Thor from living with him. Thor, a minor, had no choice but to return to the home of his mother, a residence that happens to be within the boundaries of the Harris-Lake Park Community School District. In other words, Thor L. came to Harris-Lake Park for the purpose of making a home.
The IHSAA and its Board do great things for students in Iowa. Both act in good faith in fulfilling their duties. However, in this appeal, the IHSAA and its Board were incorrect when they applied the General Transfer Rule and determined that Thor is ineligible to participate in varsity interscholastic athletics for a period of 90 days. That decision cannot be supported by the facts, and is therefore an abuse of discretion.
The September 15, 2014 decision of the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association that Thor L. is ineligible to compete in varsity interscholastic athletics at Harris-Lake Park High School for a period of 90 consecutive school days is REVERSED. There are no costs associated with this appeal to be assigned to either party.Any allegation not specifically addressed in this decision is either incorporated into an allegation that is specifically addressed or is overruled. Any legal contention not specifically addressed is either addressed by implication in legal decision contained herein or is deemed to be without merit. Any matter considered a finding of fact that is more appropriately considered a conclusion of law shall be so considered. Any matter considered a conclusion of law that is more appropriately considered a finding of act shall be so considered.