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Reseda Alleges Taft Recruited Transfer

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reseda High filed a complaint Thursday with the City Section athletics office, charging Taft with using undue influence in recruiting defensive back Gerard Jones.

Jones, a senior who helped Reseda to the City Division final last season, transferred to Taft under open enrollment and is practicing with the Toreador football team.

“We feel very strongly that Gerard was recruited to go to Taft,” said Norman Weiler, Reseda’s athletic director. “We have written statements from students and adults stating that undue influence was used.”

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In his complaint, Weiler also submitted a videotape taken last week of Jones practicing at Taft, although its usefulness in bolstering Reseda’s case is unclear.

“As of [Thursday], he has not checked out of Reseda High,” Weiler said of Jones. “Gerard never went through our attendance office.”

According to open enrollment policy, Jones has three weeks from the first day of school Sept. 8 to complete the paperwork. Taft officials insist that Jones’ transfer is proper because he applied during the open-enrollment period in May and was accepted.

“He met the conditions of open enrollment and it was all very clean,” said Jim Szabo, a Taft assistant principal. “We are very careful here because of the status of our team.”

Under Coach Troy Starr, Taft has become one of the City’s top programs, winning the City Championship last season in its third consecutive appearance in the final.

Reseda is a solid program under longtime Coach Joel Schaeffer. The Regents overcame a slow start last season to reach the final of the City Division, a playoff of the teams seeded 17th through 32nd in the section.

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Jones intercepted four passes in the playoffs, including three in a semifinal victory over Manual Arts. Jones, 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds, also should be one of the City’s top receivers this season.

The Interscholastic Athletics Committee will review Reseda’s complaint. Interestingly, Reseda Principal Robert Kladifko is president of the committee and Szabo is a member.

“Based on the evidence given to me, I feel strongly that we have a very good case,” Weiler said. “There was a clear violation of the rules.”

A year ago, Weiler successfully proved undue influence involving the transfer of star wide receiver Michael Brignac to Westlake, a Southern Section school. Brignac was ineligible to play last season.

“It was the same thing--undue influence,” Weiler said. “There are rules set up. Either we agree to go by the rules, or why have the rules?”

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