Sequoyah Schools unaffected by OSSAA rule change

BY WESLEY MAHAN
07/14/2011 07:03 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Sequoyah girls cross country teams poses in front of an Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association banner at the Class 3A 2008 state championships in Shawnee. WESLEY MAHAN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s public schools versus private school debate started in 2009 with a bang, but ended with a fizzle.

OSSAA schools passed a plan to move some successful private schools up a class provided they finished in the top eight in their respective state championships in three of the past five years and met certain criteria.

The plan, which passed 265-49 and took affect July 1, does not affect Sequoyah Schools, which is operated by the Cherokee Nation.

The other criteria for schools to move up a class are schools having selective enrollments to deny admission to a student living in the district, they are within 15 miles of a school in Class 5A or 6A, they have less than 25 percent of its students on free or reduced lunches and their enrollments have increased by 50 percent in the past three years.

Early in the process, several private schools were in the crosshairs, including Sequoyah. To attend the school, a student must be a citizen of federally recognized Native American tribe.

However, the new rule will only affect a handful of private schools. Public schools would only be affected when a private school moves up and a public school with the smallest enrollment numbers moves down.

“We didn’t meet three of the four criteria. If you don’t meet three of the four, you are just like you were before,” Sequoyah Athletic Director Larry Grigg said. “What they should have done was take everything out and said ‘if you go to the state tournament three out of five years you have to move up a class, whether you’re public or private.’ There have been some public schools dominating, too. If you’re not winning nobody would care.”

Grigg said he feels the playing fields are already level, but others disagree.

“Some of them (other schools) were mad that it’s not going to affect us. We dodged a bullet. Everybody says ‘you can compete in the next class.’ But I'm telling you if you move up it’s a little tougher and numbers start to get you. So I think us not moving up is a plus,” he said.

Sequoyah is in Class 3A football, basketball and baseball, track and cross country. The Lady Indians softball team is in Class 5A.

Football districts are set for the upcoming school year, so no OSSAA teams will move this season, including any into Class 6A. However, teams are eligible to move up a class in all other sports beginning with the 2011-12 school year.

Basketball, track, cross country and soccer will be viewed as one sport. There will also be a three-year grace period before a school jumps up a class if its enrollment increases.

wesleymahan@yahoo.com • (479) 427-9101

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