Oregon’s 287 high schools have to wait longer

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

May 6, 2006

Oregon’s 287 high schools have been waiting almost two months now for progress from mediations between the Oregon School Activities Association and school districts from Eugene, Salem-Keizer and Medford.

And after a statement released Wednesday by state schools superintendent Susan Castillo, they will have to wait longer.

“Last month, I told the OSAA and the Eugene, Salem-Keizer and Medford schools that before I made the final decision in the redistricting dispute, I wanted to give the parties an opportunity to settle the dispute themselves,” Castillo stated. “Working with OSAA and the school districts, I selected former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Edwin Peterson and former executive of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators Ozzie Rose to act as mediators. The mediators met with the parties all day on April 18 and 26 and ultimately were not able to reach a solution.”

The case will now go to a hearing Monday in Salem. The parties will plead their cases to Hearings Office Bill Young, after which he will make a recommendation to Castillo, who will then make a ruling on the matter. At that point, the losing party can choose to take the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

“Of course, I am disappointed that OSAA and the schools were not able to resolve the dispute through mediation,” said Castillo. “This is a very important issue for students, their families and our schools. As a result, it will now have to be settled in a hearing — and possibly in state court.”

Mediation attempts were necessary after the three school districts appealed the OSAA’s plan, finalized last October, to renovate the current 4A athletic classification system to a 6A system. The school districts maintain that the change, which would go into effect this fall, would cause students harm due to increased absences from class and increased travel and expenses.

The reclassification plan allowed Hood River Valley High School the option to either remain in the current Intermountain Conference or opt up to a 6A league with schools in the current Mount Hood Conference. The Eagles opted up and were en-route to being back in the league they were removed from in 2000.

Rose offered the following comment; “We all worked for two full days to come up with a way to resolve the issues. At several points during the process I thought that we were very close to a solution, but at the end of the day we weren’t able to come to agreement that was satisfactory to all the affected schools.”

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