PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- An appeal by the Salem-Keizer schools against a decision to place 5 of their schools in an athletic league with the Bend/LaPine district was denied, meaning many student athletes will travel long distances over mountain passes during their seasons.
Hearings Officer Michael Gillette sided with the Oregon School Activities Association in a Thursday afternoon release, writing there was "no legal basis on which I can sustain the District's appeal."
Salem-Keizer schools appealed the initial decision on various grounds, including insufficient notice, the safety of fans and students, the impact on school time and additional expenses.
Will Salem-Keizer appeal? "We will discuss with our advisory committee. If there was an appeal, it would be in circuit court." - says district spokesperson. https://t.co/ja1SHHqPma— Dan Tilkin (@DanTilkinKOIN6) February 23, 2018
In a statement, Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry said:
“Understandably, we are disheartened by this ruling. We know this will impact our students and our staff, as well as their families. We have already begun assessing ways to reduce the impact to our budgets, but we know our student-athletes are going to have to make some difficult decisions about participation because of the impact to their time in our classrooms.”
Spokesperson Lillian Govus told KOIN 6 News on Friday they "will discuss with our advisory committee. If there was an appeal, it would be in circuit court."
The Bend-La Pine School District, with its schools moving up from 5A to 6A, are not appealing the decision.
Peter Weber with OSAA said everyone involved is trying to make the best decision for all schools.
"Where they draw a line, set a league or move a team or school. someone is going to have to travel a little bit more and some are going to have to travel a little bit less," Webber told KOIN 6 News. "Those things happen when you have 295 schools you are trying to make happy."
He pointed to schools like Madras or Crook County or Prineville that travel to Portland for league play. "Sisters has done that for a long time with schools in the mid-valley and in Eugene."
But they're not oblivious to the fact that longer travel brings different risks.
"The safety of kids is important in those situations," he said. "This week is a good example of that. All the snow and ice and school being canceled and games being canceled. If it's not safe for schools to be traveling, then they don't travel."