The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald L. Buckwalter, United States District Court Judge.
By stipulation, the parties agreed that the evidence in the case now
before the Court would consist of: the testimony provided on November
15, 2000; the exhibits proffered during that hearing (including any
exhibits that were marked for identification, shared with opposing
counsel, and used in the course of the November 15, 2000 testimonial
hearing but that may not have yet been formally accepted into evidence);
and, at the option of the defendant, the Individualized Education Program
for Luis Cruz as it existed in June 2000 and as provided by plaintiffs to
defendant by letter dated November 29, 2000.
1. A Plaintiff herein is Luis Cruz, by and through his mother and
natural guardian, Ramonita Cruz, both of whom are individuals residing at
120 Crosby Street, Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania 19013.
2. A Plaintiff herein is Ridley School District, a school district and
political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having a
principal address at 1001 Morton Avenue, Folsom, Delaware County,
3. Defendant herein is the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic
Association, Inc. ("P.I.A.A."), a Pennsylvania association having a
principal address at 550 Gettysburg Road, P.O. Box 2008, Mechanicsburg,
A Joint Stipulation of Facts by the parties follows:
1. P.I.A.A. is a Pennsylvania non-profit membership
corporation composed of most public and many private
high schools in Pennsylvania, for a total of approximately 1,350 schools.
2. A purpose of P.I.A.A. is to develop and apply rules
regulating interscholastic athletic competition among
its members. Article II of the P.I.A.A. Constitution
states that the purpose of the P.I.A.A. is to "formulate and maintain
policies that will safeguard the educational values of
interscholastic athletics and cultivate high ideals of good sportsmanship."
3. The Preamble to the P.I.A.A. Constitution contains
an Equal Opportunity Statement that the P.I.A.A.
"believes that all boys and girls should have equal
opportunity to participate in all levels of interscholastic athletics
regardless of race, color, sex, creed, religion or ethnic background."
4. P.I.A.A. is governed by a Constitution adopted by
its member schools and By-Laws adopted by its elected
Board of Directors. The authenticity and admission
into evidence of the written P.I.A.A. Constitution and
By-Laws with the period 2000-2001, as well as the
P.I.A.A.'s written Policy and Procedures, is stipulated.
5. P.I.A.A. is divided, for administrative purposes,
into eleven geographic districts. Member schools elect
a district committee.
6. Ridley High School is a P.I.A.A. member in District
I, which encompasses Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and
7. Each district committee elects a chairman who
becomes the district's representative on the Board of
Directors, which is the statewide governing body of
8. The other members of the Board of Directors include
representatives of the Pennsylvania Association of
Secondary School Principals, the Pennsylvania State
Athletic Directors Association, the Pennsylvania
School Boards Association, athletic officials, and
junior high/middle schools. In addition, the Board of
Directors has advisors from the Pennsylvania Department of Education,
the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (Superintendents), the
Chairman of the Girls' Athletics Steering Committee,
and a representative of the private schools which are
members of P.I.A.A.
9. All of the members of the Board of Directors are
experienced professional educators who also have
background and experience in dealing with high school
10. The Preamble to the P.I.A.A. Constitution,
entitled "Adherence to and enforcement of P.I.A.A.
Rules," states that a District Committee or the Board
of Directors of the P.I.A.A. may on its own motion
enforce P.I.A.A. requirements. Under Article VII,
Section 1 thereof, the Board of Directors of P.I.A.A.
directors shall, among other things, (1) have general
control over all interscholastic athletic relations
and athletic contests in which a P.I.A.A. member
school participates (Subsection A); hear appeals from
decision of District Committees and make the necessary
investigations and decisions (Subsection G); (2) fix
and enforce penalties for any violation of the P.I.A.A. Constitution
By-Laws (Subsection H); and (3) have general control of championship
contests and interscholastic meets (Subsection I).
11. Section 1 of Article I of the By-Laws is commonly
called the Age Rule. It provides as follows:
Section 1. Maximum Age Rule.
A pupil shall be ineligible for interscholastic athletic
competition upon attaining the age of nineteen
years, with the
If the age of 19 is attained on or after July
1, the pupil shall be eligible, age-wise, to compete through
that school year.
12. Section 3 of Article XII of the By-Laws is commonly called the
Rule. It provides as follows:
Section 3. Forfeit of Games.
(a) A school shall be required to forfeit a contest
for using an ineligible coach and/or contestant.
13. The purposes of Article I of the P.I.A.A. By-Laws as asserted by
the P.I.A.A. are: (1) to protect high school athletes of customary age
from the dangers and unfairness of participation with those who are
older and thus perhaps physically larger, stronger, and more mature and
experienced; (2) to limit the possibility that the team with the
over-age student will gain an unfair competitive advantage over
opponents; (3) to have available the maximum number of team positions
for high school athletes who are of customary age for students in high
school; and (4) to maintain uniformity of standards with regard to the
age of participants.
14. The P.I.A.A. By-Laws are subject to amendment through P.I.A.A.'s
15. Ridley High School, which is part of Ridley School District,
is a recipient of federal funding.
16. Luis Cruz is a learning disabled, special education student in
his fourth year at Ridley High School.
17. Luis Cruz has played several sports in his first three years
at Ridley High School, including football, wrestling and track.
18. Because he is a student with a disability, Luis Cruz is educated in
accordance with an individualized education program (IEP), pursuant to
the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
19. As a "non-graded" student, Luis Cruz is not enrolled in a
particular numerical grade.
21. The authenticity and admission into evidence of Luis Cruz's written
records previously exchanged between the parties and presented at
trial, including IEP's dated June 22, 2000, April 29, 1999 and May 1,
1998, and his Comprehensive Evaluation Reports (CER) dated June 7, 2000
and May 11, 1998, is stipulated.
22. Most students enter high school at age 13 or 14 and graduate after
four years at age 17 or 18. Said students are eligible under P.I.A.A.
rules to participate in interscholastic high school sports for four
years provided that such students meet the eligibility rules of
23. Students who are age 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 participate in
interscholastic high school sports and P.I.A.A. sanctioned events,
and are not ineligible due to age according to P.I.A.A. rules.
24. Luis Cruz turned 19 years of age on June 2, 2000, prior to his
fourth year at Ridley High School.
25. Luis Cruz subsequently played in two interscholastic football
games during the 2000 football season.
26. Ridley High School officials then realized the conflict with
the Age Rule, in that Luis Cruz's birthday fell 28 days before
July 1, 2000, and promptly thereafter reported the same to the
27. Ridley High School and Ridley School District requested the
P.I.A.A. grant a waiver/exemption as to said rules and/or amend
28. At its meeting of Saturday, October 7, 2000, the P.I.A.A. Board of
Directors considered Ridley's request to amend the Age Rule to provide
for a waiver. The request was unanimously rejected on October 7; that
result was communicated by P.I.A.A. to Ridley no later than the ...