The NJSIAA issued its final ruling concerning CREATE Charter School's status regarding offering athletics last week, and the news was not good.
The executive committee voted last week to give the Jersey City school the 'death penalty,' meaning that the school cannot offer extracurricular competitive athletics for at least the next two years.
The committee cited several infractions for its decision in laying the wood to CREATE's beleaguered sports program, but the last two incidents were the final straws.
One involved a student/athlete, a basketball player, from another Jersey City high school, who had been arrested and charged with armed robbery. He was attending a game as a possible transfer candidate to go to CREATE Charter, sources said. The aforementioned student/athlete actually attended a CREATE game against another Hudson County foe and sat on the team's bench during that contest.
The other incident involved two advertisements that appeared in a local daily newspaper, promoting CREATEs new football program that was scheduled to begin play this coming fall. The ads boldly stated that prospective20high school students should go to CREATE and play football right away instead of going to another school and becoming just a number. The ad was construed as a recruiting tool, which is verboten in the eyes of the NJSIAA.
The NJSIAA also cited CREATEs use of an allegedly ineligible player for the 2007-08 boys' basketball season, a move that forced CREATE to relinquish the schools first-ever HCIAA Seglio Division championship and at the time.
The ruling angered CREATE Charter superintendent Steve Lipski, who is also in his final days as a Jersey City councilman.
"I'm certainly not happy about it," Lipski said. We have our attorneys drafting an appeal to the state commissioner of education and pursuing all other remedies. It's 100 percent unfair and we were disproportionately treated. It was a very harsh penalty and frankly, we felt it was too severe."
As part of the penalty, CREATE's current students can continue to attend the school and then play for the respective high school in the district where they live.
"But we’re more than a sports program," Lipski said. Only 10 percent of our student population is made of athletes. I think this is a challenge, but were going to do everything to prove that the rules have been applied to us unfairly."
For more on this story, see the Reporter newspapers this Sunday.
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