After days of asking for officials from both the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools to come to an agreement that would help keep them on the field, a group of student-athletes is now part of a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association as they try to compete in state tournaments.
All week long, athletes have expressed their dismay that they would potentially be kept out of IHSA competitions because of the ongoing teachers strike, and some are concerned that the tournament would have been their best chance at potentially getting athletic scholarships that would enable them to attend college.
“We’ve been working for this goal of making it to state and running in the postseason since June,” student Ian Bacon said.
Bacon is just one of thousands of CPS student-athletes not allowed to go after his postseason dreams because of the strike, but both CPS and the IHSA keep pointing fingers at one another.
“This is not about whether or not we think CTU or CPS is right or wrong. This is about these kids working hard all summer and fall and deserving the chance to compete in state championships and qualifying meets,” attorney Kevin Sterling said.
For their part, CPS is throwing the blame at the IHSA.
“This is not a CPS decision,” CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said. “We’re not using our kids as a pawn in this whole strike debate. IHSA rules clearly state we need 51 percent of our students in attendance in order to be an operating district, and therefore we can’t participate because of the stoppage.”
The IHSA sent out a statement with its own stance on the rule, citing a State Board of Education bylaw that says that if students aren’t in school on the date that competition begins, they aren’t allowed to participate.
“If a school is on strike and not in legal session, as defined by the State Board of Education, on the date of the beginning competition of any IHSA State Series, students from that school may not participate in the state series,” the organization said.
In response, attorneys have filed an emergency injunction on behalf of the student-athletes, seeking a temporary restraining order to prohibit the IHSA and CPS from keeping the athletes from competing in State Series events.
The IHSA has said it may be willing to hear an appeal from Simeon High School, whose football team was supposed to play a game tonight that would have enabled them to officially qualify for state competition.
A judge could potentially hear the case on Friday, but it’s unclear if damage already done to the students’ chances at a state championship berth, or worse, can be undone.