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IHSA drops appeal of judge’s decision to allow CPS cross-country runners into state meet

The move ends weeks of legal wrangling over the impact of the Chicago Teachers Union’s strike on student-athletes.

Flanked by dozens of students, Angel Arismendiz, a senior at Washington who plays soccer, speaks during a press conference outside the Daley Center.
Flanked by dozens of students, Angel Arismendiz, a senior at Washington who plays soccer, speaks during a press conference outside the Daley Center about a complaint filed in Cook County Circuit court against the Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Board of Education.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The Illinois High School Association has dropped its appeal of a Cook County judge’s decision to let Chicago Public Schools athletes run in the state cross-country meet.

“We still firmly disagree with the TRO decision, and believe that we are within our legal rights to enforce the rules set forth by our member schools,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “However, at this juncture, an affirmative appeal ruling would be ineffective given the timing of a possible future decision. It would also have no bearing on limiting any future TRO’s that are filed against the Association, or our ability to defend against them.”

The IHSA filed the appeal Nov. 4, but the appellate court decided not to rule on the appeal until after the state cross-country meet, clearing the way for the students to run on Saturday.

Mather’s cross-country team and 12 individual state qualifiers from Chicago Public Schools competed at the meet in Peoria.

Cook County Judge Neil H. Cohen ruled Nov. 1 that all CPS cross-country teams should be allowed to run in the state sectionals.

CPS cross-country teams were removed from the state meets due to the Chicago Teachers Union strike. They missed the regional round of the state series but were place in the sectionals after the judge’s decision.

IHSA rules prohibit teams from competing in the postseason if the state series begins while the district is on strike. Cohen called the policy vague.

“I’m tired of adults making decisions that rob children of their childhood and their dreams,” Cohen said. “It isn’t going to hurt the IHSA to let these kids run.”

According to IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, Cohen’s ruling “creates a dangerous legal precedent that hampers our ability to uphold the rules put into place by our member schools, and has far-reaching implications that impact the finality and integrity of any IHSA event.”