LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District Board members Victoria Ruffin and Amanda Parrell voted against designation of district representatives for California Interscholastic Federation’s Southern Section leagues for the 2020-21 school year.
Board Clerk Jill McGrady and trustee John Rush voted to approve representatives from each of the District’s eight comprehensive schools at Thursday night’s meeting. The item failed on a 2-2 vote. Parrell tried to abstain. But with no valid reason to abstain, she voted no along with Ruffin.
The item previously went before the Board at its June 11 meeting. McGrady and Rush voted yes that time, too. But Ruffin abstained and Parrell was absent, so the item failed.
It is a legal requirement of the CIF that league representatives be designated by the District’s governing Board. The proposed representatives are the athletic directors from Antelope Valley, Eastside, Highland, Knight, Lancaster, Littlerock, Palmdale and Quartz Hill high schools.
“I’m glad to see this item back on the agenda, and that I know it’s in the best interests of students across the district for this to pass,” student trustee Elijah Johnson said.
The district missed a June 28 deadline to submit its list of names.
“I’m hoping that we’re able to restore our CIF representation despite missing the deadline for this,” Johnson said. “This is an important step to support our student athletes in the district.”
Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Brett Neal said the District worked with CIF to get an extension on the deadline.
AV Union High School District teams compete in the Golden League.
“The Golden League has been represented well over the last few years,” Neal said.
As voting members, district representatives have been able to influence the federation council to add things to the CIF Constitution and Bylaws, also known as the “blue book,” in support of the Golden League, Neal said.
“It has been well for our schools having that representation on,” Neal said.
Rush asked whether having a seat at the table to vote was not more important now, given the change in schedules and seasons because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re going to have to have input,” Rush said.
Rush also asked whether it was fair to say that nobody would pay attention to what happens in the Antelope Valley because there would be no representative to champion the cause.
“That has been historical,” Neal said.
Neal added there have been many issues the Golden League faced because of its distance from the rest of the Southern Section.
“It has been very beneficial to our league and our students out here to have that individual expressing not only concerns, but also providing solutions and ideas which are very favorable to that council,” Neal said.
District representatives work with student eligibility rules with the league and CIF to help students become, and remain, academically eligible while not compromising their academics, Rush said.
The District will pay its dues to be a member of CIF but not have voting rights if it does not have representation.
“I think that it’s important that we have this, that this pass,” Rush said. “I think the students need it. If nothing else to not travel all over California because we decided not to have a representative in place to champion our cause.”
Ruffin pointed out the CIF voted on July 20 to postpone fall sports.
“They’re moving fall sports for the state of California. There’s no fall sports that are going on right now,” Ruffin said.
Neal said the district is permitted through CIF and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to continue conditioning programs for student athletes with consideration of physical distancing so they are ready when sports can return.
“We should be talking about how we are helping these athletes right now,” Ruffin said. “Because the chances of a Black youth and the chances of a Latinx youth actually making it in a professional athletic space is almost zero to none vs. investing in their academic space.”
Ruffin, a former student athlete and coach, said she values the CIF.
“This should not be our top priority right,” Ruffin said. “Let’s not get the narrative twisted. How we gonna help these students mentally deal in this pandemic about their other options? Their athleticism, they should be a student scholar first and an athlete second.”
Neal clarified the proposed Board action.
“This item really just gives us the ability to have representation to CIF from our Golden League so that we could be influencers of what is happening in athletics in our high schools,” Neal said.
Ruffin motioned to table the item because she said there would be no fall sports. Parrell seconded the motion. It failed on a 2-2 vote, with McGrady and Rush dissenting.
“I do not think tabling it would be wise considering that we have already passed our deadline,” Johnson said. “As Mr. Neal said, we have worked with CIF to get an extension.”
Neal clarified that the district will still offer its regular fall sports but with combined and shortened seasons.
According to the most recent CIF 2020-21 sports calendar released July 20, cross country, football and volleyball will start in December.
“I believe that sports are such an important part of our schools and part of the education system,” McGrady said. “For some students participating in sports is the sole motivating reason they attend school. Student athletes tend to manifest stronger peer relationships, better attachment with adults and higher self esteem. They’re less likely to engage in high-risk behavior, They tend to have a greater sense of initiative, persistence,and personal responsibility.”
McGrady added the district will have sports when it safe to do so.
“It seems irresponsible to put it off and to say we’re not going to do this. This is for our students,” McGrady said.
Rush sought to clarify that CIF committees are meeting now and making decisions to set things up for when sports do resume.
“Yes, Mr. Rush. They are meeting now as we know,” Neal said. “Also, some of the decisions have been made in condensing the schedules, so we would desire to have a voice on those committees that are making those decisions.”