Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
CIF, the California Interscholastic Federation, which governs all high school sports in California, is often mystical, and its rules are completely confusing. When a student is denied the right to play sports for some reason, the immediate and correct instinct is to file a CIF appeal. But only limited issues are appealable with CIF per CIF Bylaws.
What Can A Parent Appeal to CIF?
Here are the matters that may be appealable to CIF:
- Conflict with a coach
- Following a coach
- Pre-enrollment contact
- Club coach at new school
- Relocated coach
- Athletically motivated
- Age requirement
- Charge of semester of attendance
- Passing 20 semester credits
- Former coach
What is Not Appealable to CIF?
Here are the matters that may not be appealable to CIF:
- Sit out period
- Per CIF bylaws: “Q: My son was denied the Sit Out Period. May we appeal this ruling? A: No.”
- Hardship, all bases
- Court ordered transfers
- Children of divorced parents
- Individual student safety incidents
- Discontinued program
- Foster and homeless children
- Military service
- Married status
- Board of education ruling.
- Per CIF bylaws: “All eligibility determinations made [under this hardship section] are final as all of these hardship circumstances are factual in nature and can be documents.”
Unclear CIF Appeal Rights?
There are also areas where it is not clear in CIF bylaws whether a matter may be appealable, such as:
- Discipline transfer
- Mistake in documents submitted to CIF
- Scholastic eligibility
- Bad faith
- Student starts living with one parent (after initial residential eligibility was established with two parents) but there is no court order or formal custody agreement formalizing this
- Other areas not defined in CIF policy
Importance of Ensuring Schools Understand Transfer Bases
This confusing situation emphasizes the strong need for parents to ENSURE that they assist the new school in understanding the reason for the school transfer. They also need to provide any formal or other documents supporting the reason for the transfer. Parents should assist the new school when they submit the transfer paperwork to CIF and ensure it is carefully done. The seemingly simple CIF transfer form needs to have all evidence to support the bases for the transfer, such as that it is based on hardship, or based on an actual change in residence by the family.
Parents also need to ensure the prior school is aware of any reason a student may be transferring that may meet CIF “hardship” or other categories which could allow the student to participate in sports, so that school can also report the situation correctly when communicating with CIF.
Most parents are completely unaware of the impact a terrible filing will have on the student and their sports eligibility, until it is too late. Parents need to be fully aware of the CIF transfer issues prior to enrolling in the new school so they can handle this with the student’s new coach or athletic director properly.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.