Five Oklahoma City private schools are suing the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) over a new rule they deem unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, filed in district court Dec. 7, lists identifies the Plaintiffs as Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, Mount Saint Mary Catholic High School, Heritage Hall School, Crossings Christian School, and Oklahoma Christian School.
The schools are asking that OSSAA change Rule 14, revised in June, which requires private schools to move up in classification regardless of enrollment, if the school meets a certain success rate in a sport.
“Rule 14 violates the terms and provisions of the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act as an arbitrary and capricious decision that is based solely on OSSAA’s well-demonstrated animus toward private schools,” the lawsuit states.
It further asserts that the rule infringes on students’ civil rights under the due process clause of Article 2, section 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
“The OSSAA utilizes Rule 14 to arbitrarily move the private schools to a higher division based solely on the school being non-public and then continues to move the private schools to higher divisions if the private school is successful in competition over a two and three year period,” the lawsuit reads. “Public schools remain in the division determined by their ADM regardless of success.”
For instance, Bishop McGuinness, with 700 students, should qualify for the 4A category, but due to Rule 14, it competes against larger public schools in 6A in most sports, according to local media.
“When you play a complete soccer match, and you are subbing students in or out or someone gets injured, we are at an extreme disadvantage,” said Bishop McGuinness Principal David Morton. “There is a numbers difference.”
Sports radio host Jerry Ramsey claims that private schools, regardless of size, have the upper hand because they have more money for better facilities and equipment.
“Facilities and resources are everything and so the private schools, obviously, they’re private institutions,” Ramsey said according to KFOR. “They’re going to have better resources and facilities than these public schools. It’s just a fact.”
Generally, however, many private schools don’t have superior facilities.
“My private school didn’t have a football field, basketball court, baseball field or a track,” private school graduate Kianna Hernandez told The Lion. “We rented out facilities to practice and always had to do away games. Some private schools have the means, that’s true, but that’s not always the case. Public schools have access to state and federal funds that private schools don’t.”
In addition, Oklahoma public schools received a record level of federal funding this school year, according to Fox 25.
In addition to seeking an amendment to Rule 14, the Plaintiffs are suing for lawyer fees and court costs.