Damien, St. Lucy’s, Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure file federal lawsuit against CIF …

Four Southland parochial high schools are claiming religious bias and lack of due process in a federal lawsuit fighting a California Interscholastic Federation decision to pull their sports teams from mixed public-private school leagues and place them in new leagues made up of predominantly religious schools.

Lawyers representing Damien, Oaks Christian, St. Bonaventure and St. Lucy’s high schools filed federal lawsuits Thursday against the CIF State office, CIF-Southern Section and Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod in hopes of reversing a decision that would place the schools’ athletic teams in playoff divisions and leagues comprised of parochial schools beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

The move is an escalation by the schools after they lost their appeals hearing with a Southern Section executive committee in March. At that hearing, attorneys argued from a range points, including religious bias in the case of Damien and St. Lucy’s, to lack of due process for all four schools during their appeals.

Both Damien and St. Lucy’s are currently in the Sierra League and in the Mt. SAC Area for playoff groupings. Under the new placements, Damien, St. Lucy’s and Pomona Catholic would be moved to the parochial area for playoff and league placement. Pomona Catholic is not part of the lawsuit.

“They did an area placement and moved three schools from the Mt. SAC Area,” said Los Angeles-based attorney Robert Prata, who represents Damien and St. Lucy’s. “The only three schools they moved from the area are the Catholic schools.

“They contend they did it on the basis of competitive equity, but no other schools, no matter how good they are, have been moved.”

In recent years, the Southern Section has gotten a push to separate private and public schools and form leagues consisting solely of private schools. The Southern Section office declined to comment on the lawsuits per office policy during matters of litigation.

All four schools will begin the final year of the current league and playoff division cycle this fall. The Southern Section holds re-leaguing meetings every four years.

Although three separate lawsuits were filed on Thursday, an underlying theme in all of them was that the schools did not get proper due process during the appeals phase.

At the March appeals hearing before Southern Section executive committee, lawyers contend that the schools did not get a fair shake because the committee was not unbiased.

“Nowhere in American jurisprudence is the entity that hears the appeal the same entity that already decided the matter from which the appeal has been taken,” Prata said. “CIF is mandated under the education code to provide a neutral appeals process. They never did. It was not a legitimate appeals panel.”

  • Dr Jekyll

    If successful they should put Damien & St. Lucy’s into the Baseline which will be almost as brutal as the proposed new league. You don’t think Charter Oak will sh*t a brick if a new round of voting has be conducted.

    • 90′s Spartan

      I agree. They should put Damien and SL in the Baseline.

      • Spartan Pride

        Damien/St. Lucy’s used to be in the Baseline League. It would be a coming home party.

        • apachejoe

          Put Damien in the Baseline and I’ll send my kid there to play for sure!!!

  • Don

    Put ‘em all in the Northeast D, then they can win everything every year.

    Whiners.

  • OuttaYourMindTrib

    I hope CIF eats a big fat turd sammich on this. This round of realignment is nothing but scat.

    Weighing each sport equally is complete and total garbage too. I’m sorry, but if a sport does not generate money, no point for that sport. Plain and simple.

  • Aaron

    Aram…you got my opinion on twitter.

  • no-step

    I’m glad this suit was filed and I hope they win it.

    • Aaron

      Frivolous

      • 90′s Spartan

        That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        • Aaron

          Maybe they believe it has value..but have you seen the facilities Oaks Christian has, and I’m sure you’ve seen your own arena and world class strength training facility.

          • 90′s Spartan

            A nice weight room doesn’t make a lawsuit frivolous.

            Read the complaint. There are legit issues for CIF to answer.

            Again, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          • Aaron

            It means exactly what I think it means, I think that this lawsuit has no value. The resources that these schools are able to command is above and beyond for the most part what the schools around them command. Oaks Christian not so much, but the rest of their league was already in the PAC-5.

          • 90′s Spartan

            First of all, Oaks is not a plaintiff in the complaint. The plaintiffs are Bonnie’s and Damien. Both schools have demonstrated that the proposed move will force their student athletes to miss approx. 20 class periods per season because of away games. Academically speaking, that is significant. Whatever resources a school may have (which you have no knowledge of BTW) can’t buy time missed.

            Secondly, the complaint describes how CIF failed to follow their own procedures (similar to NCAA in recent cases), and how the procedure fails to comply with specific Ed. Code. BTW, Ed. Code is state law. Private schools have to comply with Ed. Code too. Do they deserve equal protection that public schools get under these laws? The point is, whether you like it or not, there are legal issues of value that need to be answered.

            Lastly, from a common sense point of view, why move Bonnie’s or Damien to parochial area against their will? Is it competition? Well, Bonnie’s is good in football and not much else. They are already PAC 5 in football, so why move them? Damien is strong in basketball, down in football, and solid in most other sports. They are not exactly dominating in their current placement.

            Is it because of “recruiting?” In that case, when do we separate Upland, Charter Oak, South Hills, Workman, Etiwanda, Centennial, or any other schools that use out of area players to win titles? It seems to me that if you want to match schools up on that basis, there would be plenty of public schools in the mix.

          • Aaron

            Ask St Bonnies about what it’s like to win every year…you get moved up and then over and then up again. Oaks, well they dominated against cream puffs for a long time. In regards to resources…Damien is the least of the schools I’d say, however they aren’t the smallest. Of all the schools it really hurts St Bonnies because they are completely disadvantaged geographically.
            I’m more worried about BoHi getting put in the Inland when they have no business being there. You guys…you have the facilities and now the coach to attract talent…will you do it is the question. I don’t really buy the religious bias, and of course there is a bias against a private school. Did you know that CIF is a state entity?

          • 90′s Spartan

            Just so I understand your point of view:
            1) You don’t think missed class time is an issue for Bonnie’s or Damien.
            2) You don’t have a problem with the procedural issues brought up in the complaint.
            3) Damien has a nice gym and a new coach, so they shouldn’t complain and the complaint that has been filed is frivolous.

            It’s one man’s opinion an I can respect that. Good luck to you.

          • Spartan Pride

            @ 90′s Spartan-You presented the Damien/St. Lucy’s views diplomatically. Unfortunately, Aaron and Dr. Jekyll fail to address each point. Such as what was the reason for the move? And for either one of these bloggers to call us whiners and move our kids to a public school because public schools don’t address these type of concerns…Then I welcome them to go back a few months when multiple schools were petitioning CIF not to move from their current league. I do believe Damien has an arguement on many levels and CIF failed to address any of them and ignored their own guidelines.
            @Aaron I am attempting to understand your arguement. Damien neither has superior facilities or dominant winning teams. Bonita has a great new gym and sports complex. Where should we stick them if that is some form of logical defense?
            @ Dr. Jekyll-Yes Damien hired a Public school coach and we drove all over the place because we had too. The arguements were made and this guy is gone for many of his bad decisions. Having a few away games is different then having months worth. Damien should not be separated just because it is a religious based school. It really is that simple. Until you can provide a logical reason why CIF moved Damien, I believe you do not have an arguement to make. Last but not least, there is no law in CIF that says any school has to be a member of CIF. However, if they are suppose to be a governing body of California HighSchool Athletics, than I believe every school is entitled to be supported and protected by the very rules they govern equally.

          • Dr Jekyll

            Don’t play stupid, everyone knows that you were moved because you are Private, not because you are Religious. Now stop crying and Man Up.

          • Spartan Pride

            @ Dr. Jekyll It’s easy to just from the cheap seats. But when you are a player than its a different game. Taking on CIF is the ultimate Man Up. Last but not least, you failed to answer the question. Again. Throwing insults is the first sign of losing an arguement. Thats not a man up but a let down.

          • Dr Jekyll

            Cry me a river, “It’s too far, when will my kids study, everybody hates Catholics, we didn’t get our due process” If you don’t like it, send your kids to a Public School. I didn’t hear anybody crying about the travel time last year when Damien (of their own free will) scheduled Olu, Palm Desert, St. Bernard, Temescal Canyon, and Los Alamitos all in the month of September and October. Do the Damien kids not go to school in those months? Here’s an idea, instead of scheduling teams across the county and into different counties next year, how about scheduling your local rival teams during the preseason and then the regular season could be when you visit the teams further away. Amat has been dealing with these types of commutes for decades and I have never heard anyone from Amat complain that their kids have no time to study because they’re always stuck in traffic. Stop with “it’s because of our religious denomination”, Oaks Christian got the boot just like Damien and their not Catholic. So what are we going to hear next, CIFSS is run by the Jews and Muslims? and they hate Christians? (lol) As far as the due process that all the Damien people keep spouting about, would yall feel better if the MTSAC Association reconvened and formally voted Damien/St. Lucy’s out of the MTSAC? Because that’s the same due process that schools like Ayala got when they were moved out of the Sierra and into the Baseline, which they were none too happy about. Personally, I consider two failed appeals to be due process. Under the notion that these Private Schools did not receive due process would suggest that CIF would never be able to make a change or move any school from one league to another without going through the court system. That’s absolutely ridicules, that kind of ruling would open up the system to nonstop court actions by any and all schools come re-leaguing and re-divisioning time. Nowhere is it written that Private Schools must participate in CIF, feel free to break off and do your own thing if it’s just too much for you to handle.

          • 90′s Spartan

            I’d like to address your points one at a time:
            1) Football games are played in the evening. No class time was missed by varsity players. Lower lever players missed about 4 hours total because of the games you listed. BTW, OLu and TC were home, Los Al and PD were away. The other game didn’t happen.

            2)Amat’s commute is 32 miles less per round trip compared to Damien and about 60 miles less compared to Bonnie’s. Also, and this is a key issue for due process, Amat is ok with their area placement. Bonnie’s and Damien specifically requested no change in placement.

            3) We don’t know what the reason for the move is because CIF never presented one (which is another due process problem). It’s obviously not for competition or geography given the athletic performance and locations of Bonnie’s and Damien. Is it because they are religious schools? I don’t know. Maybe. But if it is, is that a good enough reason? Not according to CIF’s Blue Book (due process issue).

            4) The due process complaint is basically that CIF didn’t use their own process when deciding to move Bonnie’s and Damien. The two schools are asking CIF to apply their own rules to the process, which they did not. Here are the criteria for moving a team in order of importance: 1) request of a school (both schools requested no change); 2) competitive history and geography (prior placement is already a good fit in those areas); 3) special circumstance (none was given); 4) CIF is prohibited from using public, private, religious or secular to determine area placement. THOSE ARE CIF’S RULES! Which of those criteria justify moving Bonnie’s or Damien? I would say that CIF failed to follow it’s very own rules in the process. That is a due process problem.

            5) Bonnie’s and Damien’s appeal was heard by the exact same people who made the initial decision to move the schools from their area. Ed. Code mandates that CIF provide a “neutral appeals process.” Does that sound neutral to you? One could argue it is not neutral to appeal to the same people that made the decision in question.

            6) Releagueing and area placement are different processes. Ayala’s placement in Baseline is bad, but what rules, criteria, or processes were violated during releagueing? None that I know of. Maybe you know of a way Ayala’s due process was denied. I don’t.

          • Aaron

            Ayala didn’t move areas…they remain within the MtSac area.

          • 90′s Spartan

            That is correct. As I pointed out, releagueing and area placement are two different issues/processes.

            I don’t think Ayala belongs in the conversation. Just trying to address what the other guy wrote.

          • Dr Jekyll

            Your moving into a league which consists of 5 teams which means 4 leagues games for single play sports and 8 games for double play sports = 2 games on the road for single play sports and 4 games on the road for double play sports. Wow that sounds just terrible! If your sporting teams would simply schedule locals for non league play and let your league play be games that are played father away then your total drive for the year will end up being less then what you are experiencing now. Your Basketball team traveled to Northern California last year for a tournament that was played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday which means they were probably traveling on Wednesday. Where was the outrage about all the school time missed for those 3 ENTIRE days? Again, stop crying and MAN up and play with all the other Privates where you should have been placed years ago.

          • no-step

            Why do YOU think that the “privates” should be placed (segregated) together?

          • Dr Jekyll

            Level playing fields. The money put into Football, Basketball, and Baseball at the Privates is significantly more then what the Publics can afford. Coaches at the Privates being paid 6 figures + on a yearly basis just to coach & recruit and not having to be bothered with teaching class is a significant advantage. In addition to that the shear numbers of paid assistant coaches vs the Publics is way out of line. The fact that Privates have the money to file Federal Lawsuits over re-leaguing speaks volumes about the financial differences between Public Athletics and Private Athletics. Again, this is all about Damien wanting to be in a position to flex their Private School advantage over the local Publics and not about lost time in class, a propaganda slogan that I debunked in a previously post by showing the real travel numbers. Remember, numbers never lie.

          • no-step

            Then…why don’t the “privates” win every championship in every sport, every year?

          • Dr Jekyll

            Did you see the State Basketball Championships last year. The Publics only did well in divisions that the Privates had very few or no teams at all. In football on a percentage basis the Privates perform well above the Publics. There are significantly more Publics then Privates yet Privates represent a majority of the teams that appear in State Championship Games in Football and Basketball.

          • Dr Jekyll

            I’ve already debunked Damien’s excuse about the travel time and distance, so tell me, what is the real reason why Damien is so afraid of competing against the other Privates?

          • no-step

            You TRIED to debunk, but you were wrong.

          • no-step

            You avoided the question. If the privates are so much better, why don’t they win everything every year? The Public schools recruit players and don’t have the transportation costs of the private schools. These are genuine concerns.

          • Dr Jekyll

            See above or read again. I think I was pretty clear on the subject. I never said that Privates win every single year in every single sport. And how do you figure Publics don’t have the transportation costs of the Privates? If you mean that they don’t travel to games in luxury buses like Servite, Oaks and many of the other Privates then I guess your correct, they don’t have those types of expenses.

          • no-step

            Transportation costs for private schools, including insurance/fuel, and driver salary, are paid by the school. Public school transportation is State funded. That’s how I figure the added costs.

  • Don

    All you trial attorneys can spin this thing any way you like but the overriding message to most observers is this: Damien is willing to travel only the distance they judge comfortable to play only teams they think they can beat. One only
    needs to look (beyond Lutheran) at the 2013 pre-season and see St. Paul, St. Francis, Palm Desert, and a reeling Los Alamitos and know the Sparties have no interest in even competing against teams ranked higher than D4 much less anyone from their own D.

    Now that you mention it, none of those schools booked are exactly close by lovely La Verne and Palm Desert although an away game this year, is almost a 100 mile bus ride away. Recent years have sent Damien footballers to nearby Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano. Same in Baseball, no problem there hooking up non league games in Menifee or Hemet or Corona. Don’t even start me up on the roundball team . . . they like to play in places like Concord and Alameda and remember, these are all by choice.

    Same with St. Lucy’s, if they are so worried about their carbon footprint why do they send the volleyballers to Colorado or Arizona or the kommie kickball team out to Corona or So OC. The ugliest part isn’t even the money these
    schools are wasting on their pursuit of adequacy, it’s the specious arguments some of their fans are willing to make. As much as it wounds me to sound like Steve, this whole thing is really unworthy of Catholic High Schools. As for Oaks Christian, I expect nothing less.

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  • Tech Support

    I think what some people are missing in this is the fact that this isn’t about football alone. Football, given games are once a week and played mostly at night will have the least impact in terms of missing classes for travel and extra travel costs for the schools in question.

    It’s the other sports that makes these moves costly to the impacted schools.