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Why are rules different for public and private school kids?

October 16, 2017 GMT

All people should have the right to live free from discrimination. In my opinion, the New Mexico Activities Association applies a different set of standards to students who attend private school in the state of New Mexico by denying them equal opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities at the same level offered to students who attend public school in New Mexico, when all other factors are equal. Look at the transfer rule.

Under NMAA rule, once a student participates in a high school sport, the student extinguishes his or her open enrollment choice, limiting him or her from obtaining varsity eligibility at any other New Mexico high school. Also per NMAA rule, students who attend public school can regain varsity eligibility at a neighborhood school if they meet the criteria (Section 6.3.2). According to this NMAA bylaw, “… if a Student chooses to enroll in the high school within the attendance boundaries of the Student’s primary residence and resides with his or her Parent or Legal Guardian, the Student is a bona fide resident of that attendance zone and is eligible immediately for participation. …”

Here is how that plays out in the real world, as I understand the rule. Student A and Student B participate in high school sports as eighth-grade students. Student A and Student B relocate with their families to a new city in the state of New Mexico, thus making a bona fide move. Student A enrolls in the public high school within the attendance zone and immediately regains eligibility for varsity level athletics within their public high school. Student B enrolls in the neighborhood private high school and is denied immediate eligibility for varsity level play and forced to adhere to transfer guidelines, meaning the student is ineligible for varsity level play for one academic and calendar year.

If students relocate within the state of New Mexico, only students enrolling in public school are granted immediate varsity eligibility. NMAA says this is fair, equal and nondiscriminatory treatment of New Mexico student athletes. Yet under NMAA rule, students making a bona fide move from anywhere throughout the state of New Mexico must transfer into a public high school if they wish to participate in varsity sports. Otherwise, they will have to wait under NMAA transfer guidelines. How is this not discriminatory?

Francesca Sanchez-Waghorn is a native New Mexican, a public educator and a concerned parent. She resides in Albuquerque.