An evidentiary hearing was held pursuant to departmental rules found at 281-IAC chapter 6. Jurisdiction for this appeal is pursuant to Iowa Code section 280.13 and 281-IAC 36.17. The Appellant seeks reversal of a decision that the IGHSAU Board of Directors made as a result of a hearing on December 7, 2016, finding that Grand View Christian (GVC)student Raquel D. is ineligible to compete in varsity athletics for 90 days under the general transfer rule, 281-IAC 36.15(3).
Raquel has a learning disability. She transferred to ICA in 9th grade. ICA is a private school that was unable to accommodate Raquel's IEP. Her parents determined that a smaller school would be beneficial regardless of the loss of her IEP. Grand View Christian (GVC) is a private school, similar to ICA, and is unable to implement an IEP. GVC did establish a 504 Plan. Her father testified that the transfer to GVC was essential for her mental health and wellbeing. He would not have transferred Raquel to GVC is they did not have a basketball program. Basketball has been an important part of Raquel's life and she is very talented.
Numerous emails were exchanged regarding the transfer. At that time, Scot D. indicated a transfer to GVC was doubtful because Raquel would be unable to play basketball until January 10, 2017. The next day, Scot D. contacted IGHSAU executive director to inquire about a waiver of the transfer rule. Scot D. erroneously indicated GVC could accommodate an IEP. Mr. Dick explained exception #7 to the transfer rule would only apply if Raquel D. was classified as special education with an IEP. ICA verified it does not offer the needed services and GVC verified they do have the appropriate program. The district of residence would have to agree for the exception to apply. Rachel D. enrolled at GVC in August 2016. On November 16, 2016, executive director of IGHSAU, determined the transfer rule did apply and Raquel was ineligible for varsity level competition in sports and GVC for the first 90 days of the present school year.
The Appellants exercised their rights to a hearing before the IGHSAU Board of Directors which took place on December 7, 2016. The Board upheld the decision. At hearing, the executive director explained further the decision on the totality of the circumstances. Educational placements for children with a disability are determined annually based on the child's IEP and proximity to their home. 281 IAC 41.116
Raquel did not have an IEP at ICA, and does not have one at GVC. Her transfer to GVC was not a change in educational placement as defined by rule. Additionally, an IEP is not equivalent to a 504 Plan. The Board properly reviewed Raquel's motivating factors for transfer as required. Academic services were clearly a motivating factor for the transfer.
For the foregoing reasons, the December 14, 2016 decision of the Board of Directors of the IGHSAU that Raquel D. is ineligible to compete in varsity athletics at Grand View Christian for a period of 90 days is AFFIRMED.