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IRVINE : School District to Appeal Court Ruling

The school board has decided to appeal a court decision ordering it to rewrite eligibility rules for students who participate in extracurricular activities.

The district’s attorneys have asked the California Supreme Court to hear the case, which involves a Woodbridge High School cheerleader who was forced off the school drill team four years ago when her grade-point average fell below 2.5 out of a possible 4.0.

The cheerleader, Melissa Fontes, sued the Irvine Unified School District, contending that the eligibility rules are unfair because cheerleaders must maintain higher grades than athletes in order to participate in after-school activities.

Under the school’s policy, students involved in activities that last for more than one semester--such as drill team members and student government leaders--must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average.

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Students whose activities last for one semester--such as football and basketball players--need only maintain a 2.0 average. In May, the 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the eligibility standards were unfair and demanded that the district create a single set of requirements.

Supt. David Brown said that the California School Board Assn. urged Irvine officials to appeal the decision, saying that the court ruling could affect districts throughout the state.

Brown said officials aren’t sure if the California Supreme Court will agree to hear the case.

If not, the district’s lawyers hope that the high court will “de-publish” the appeals court decision, a move that would prevent the ruling from setting any legal precedents.

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Under that scenario, the Irvine district would still be bound by the court decision and would be forced to change its eligibility rules.

The appeal will not cost the district any money because its legal counsel, Parham & Associates of Irvine, agreed not to charge for its services.


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