COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced sanctions Tuesday for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) for incorrectly assigning students to certain schools for participation in football and soccer. As a result, John Marshall High School must forfeit two football victories and three boys soccer victories and Glenville has been ruled ineligible for the football playoffs, if the school finishes in the Top 8 of its region.
In addition, Glenville is placed on probation through June 2021 and CMSD has been fined $5,000 and reprimanded for lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control in assigning students to the correct high school for athletic participation purposes. The violations are of OHSAA Bylaw 4-3-1, which addresses participation opportunities for students only at the school where they attend. While Exception 4 to that bylaw allows some participation opportunities for students who attend a non-traditional school, CMSD did not adhere to the business rules for how those students are assigned. In 2007, CMSD co-authored those business rules.
“I need to acknowledge the cooperation from Cleveland Metropolitan School District in this situation,” said Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA Executive Director. “This draws attention to the fact that school districts with multiple high schools need to be aware of how to properly assign students for athletic participation. While we will continue to offer our assistance with understanding and interpreting our bylaws and regulations, we hope and trust these mistakes will not occur again.”
A spokesperson for CMSD said the District accepts OHSAA’s findings and has investigated where and how errors occurred in the assignment of players to their appropriate teams.
“The District takes seriously any infraction of OHSAA rules and is holding accountable those who failed in their oversight responsibilities,” said Roseann Canfora, Chief Communications Officer. “It is apparent that a rule created in cooperation with OHSAA in 2007 and that was reaffirmed in August, 2018, was not followed.”
District officials met this week with players and their families to brief them on OHSAA’s findings, implemented disciplinary procedures for those who erred in player assignments and called for professional development, including a review of OHSAA rules, to be repeated for every member of the administrative staff in the Athletics Department.
“CMSD accepts full responsibility for the sanctions imposed by OHSAA, with the exception of penalties imposed on our players,” said Canfora. “For this reason, CMSD will file an appeal with OHSAA to find a way to hold the District accountable without imposing harm to our students for the decisions of adults.”
The OHSAA had previously reviewed this regulation with CMSD administrators and CMSD did properly count those students into the enrollments of the schools at which the students should have been participating. However, despite this fact, the students were all still permitted to play football at Glenville.
The difference in each school’s penalties stems from the eligibility of the affected students. John Marshall was allowing students who attend a non-traditional high school in the district to play football and soccer at its school. However, the school where the students attend does offer sports, so those students’ only participation opportunity was at the school where they are enrolled and attending. These students were not eligible to participate at any other CMSD school, irrespective of whether the school offered the particular sport in question.
Conversely, the students participating at Glenville attend a different non-traditional high school in the district which does not offer any sports. Therefore, they are permitted to participate in athletics at the CMSD high school located closest to the students’ residence. CMSD was not properly assigning these students to the correct high school, but since the students are otherwise eligible to participate at the properly assigned schools, no forfeitures are required due to administrative error and the students may finish the football season at Glenville before being properly assigned for subsequent seasons.