Canton Central School files protest against Potsdam for having multiple boys on girls swim team
Saturday, October 7, 2017 - 8:27 am

By MATT LINDSEY

POTSDAM — Canton Central School has filed a formal protest against Potsdam Central claiming that having multiple boys on the girls swim team is having an adverse effect upon the female swimmers.

“This year we have five boys swimming on the girls' varsity swim team and five boys swimming on the girls modified swim team,” Potsdam Central Superintendent Joann Chambers said.

PCS has had one or more boys on the swim team for at least three years, she said. “I believe there are two boys on the Edwards-Knox team and one boy on the Salmon River team as well.”

Having boys on the swim team has raised concerns in the community about unfair competition.

"I am supportive of our team and student-athletes, but understand the intent of the Commissioner's regulation that governs mixed competition,” Canton Central Superintendent William ‘Bill’ Gregory said. “That said, I also believe there are other options that could be explored going forward to ensure a level playing field for all."

Chambers and school staff are working on a solution that may make everyone happy.

“We are in preliminary discussions with some other schools about the possibility of an athletic merger for the 2018-19 school year so that our boys who are interested will have a boys' swim team on which they may participate,” Chambers said.

Schools are governed by regulations set forth by the Commission of Education.

In this case, the Commissioner's Regulations state: Equal opportunity to participate in interschool competition, either on separate teams or in mixed competition on the same team, shall be provided to male and female students, except as hereinafter provided. In schools that do not provide separate competition for male and female students in a specific sport, no student shall be excluded from such competition solely by reason of sex, except in accordance with the provisions of subclauses (2) and (4) of this clause. For the purposes of this clause, baseball and softball shall be considered to constitute a single sport.

(2) In the sports of baseball, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, softball, speedball, team handball, power volleyball where the height of the net is set at less than eight feet, and wrestling, the fitness of a given student to participate in mixed competition shall be determined by a review panel consisting of the school physician, a physical education teacher designated by the principal of the school, and if requested by the parents of the pupil, a physician selected by such parents. Such panel shall make its determination by majority vote of the members, and in accordance with standards and criteria issued by the department.

(3) Where a school provides separate competition for male and female pupils in interschool athletic competition in a specific sport, the superintendent of schools, or in the case of a nonpublic school or school system which elects to be governed by this clause, the chief executive officer of the school or school system, may permit a female or females to participate on a team organized for males. However, where separate competition is provided, males may not participate on teams organized for females.

Where a school does not provide separate competition for male and female pupils in interschool athletic competition in a specific sport, the superintendent of schools may decline to permit a male or males to participate on a team organized for females upon a finding that such participation would have a significant adverse effect upon the females.

“In this case, we don't have a boys' team so we have permitted the boys to swim on the girls' team,” Chambers said.

Canton Central believes “the participation of the boys on the Potsdam team has had a ‘significant adverse effect’ on the girls,” Chambers said

The Mixed Competition Committee will convening this week to review this case and make a ruling,” Chambers said.

Canton Central must provide statistical and observational data including game films, statistics, etc. in support of their protest. Protests must be based on facts, not assumptions.

If evidence of unethical collaboration on the part of protesting schools or coaches occurs, there will be reason to declare the protest invalid.

If as a result of a hearing, the mixed student(s) is declared ineligible, the hearing committee must also determine a ruling on the record of the games or contests in which the ineligible student(s) participated.

Should either party wish to appeal, the following avenues are available: A Section X Hearing Panel chaired by the Hearing Officer; the Commissioner of Education and the court system.