CIF Panel Rejects Proposal for Orange County Section : High schools: Backers say issue is not dead, however. Education code allows formation of section outside CIF jurisdiction.


A proposal to form an Orange County Section in the California Interscholastic Federation was soundly defeated Friday by the State Federated Council. But a school superintendent representing himself and his 14 counterparts in the county said the issue is far from dead.

The council, made up of representatives from the state's 10 sections, voted approximately 2-1 to reject the formation of a section that would include 76 county public and private high schools with a total of 106,000 students. Southern Section representatives voted 24-0 against the proposal.

Proponents had hoped to begin operation in the 1994-95 school term.

James Fleming, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District superintendent, said Friday's defeat was only the final phase of what he called "an administrative remedy" within the CIF. He said county superintendents are "committed to a section" and added, "I think we'll move ahead."

Fleming said their position is supported by a section of the California State Education Code that mandates that schools under their jurisdiction may "enter into voluntary association with other schools" for the purpose of administrating athletics.

Fleming said the superintendents have received legal advice throughout the two-year procedure. A feasibility study was established and a formal request was made to form a section. The idea was rejected by both a state-appointed section relations committee and the Federated Council.

"We have two years to put (the county section) together, so we don't have to do anything right away," Fleming said. "We would like to be a part of the CIF, but we have explored the possibility of moving on without the CIF's approval and feel we have every right to form a section under the State Education Code."

The county's public and private schools are currently members of the Southern Section, which includes 484 schools and stretches from Calexico to Mammoth.

Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas said there could be problems for county schools if they attempted to form a section on their own.

"Oh, I suppose they could go ahead and form the section without approval, but they'd risk losing National Federation sanctioning, which means their schools could not compete against Southern Section schools," Thomas said. "I don't think that would be in their best interests. It would isolate them further from the rest of the state."

It possibly could also lead to the schools being unable to compete in state competitions such as basketball, volleyball, track and field and cross-country.

"Yes, they can keep us from being a part of the CIF," Fleming said, "but again, we have two years to consider forming the section, and that's an issue that will have to be addressed."

Jim Olson, member of the California School Boards Assn., offered a compromise in which the representatives of the state's 10 sections would have accepted the Section Relations Committee's recommendation to reject a county section but would have allowed supporters another year to answer questions concerning how such a section would be governed and financed.

"No one is entirely opposed to the concept of an Orange County Section, but there are concerns over a lack of process," Olson said. "This plan would allow county administrators time to address the concerns of the 15 private schools in the area, for example."

But Olson's amendment was defeated almost unanimously. Opponents felt that a delay would impact a long-range plan for the State CIF to be developed by facilitator Elissa Maas, a San Luis Obispo resident who was once a school board member in Visalia.

The council approved $28,000 to employ Maas next year to study the CIF's future. She has previously been a facilitator for Levi-Strauss and AT&T.;

The hiring of Maas is based on the feeling by many that there are a number of inequitable situations statewide.

In other council action:

--A proposal allowing a Dec. 18 football playoff between L.A. City 4-A champion and Southern Section Division I champion was approved. But council members failed to reach an agreement on how gate receipts would be divided.

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