New state-wide transfer rule will ‘level the playing field’

The constant transferring of athletes from high school to high school within the Federal Way school district might be coming to an end.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Representative Assembly passed a new wide-ranging transfer rule at their executive board’s meeting in Renton Friday.

“This does level the playing field,” said Greg Flynn, the Federal Way school district’s athletic liaison. “It makes the same rules for everybody.”

The rule will force all athletes who transfer within their school district to meet the WIAA transfer guidelines. Previously, WIAA rules only applied to athletes transferring from one district to another, and intra-district transfers were governed by school-district standards.

Students transferring from one high school to another within the four Federal Way high schools is a very common practice because of a district policy called Choice Enrollment.

The policy was instituted well over a decade ago to give students a chance to attend a school that allows the best flexibility to succeed in their overall educational experience.

But questions have surfaced over the years about the Choice Enrollment policy being abused by athletes in the district.

The policy allows students living within the school’s assigned attendance area to have the first choice. Student requesting attendance in a school under the Choice provisions will be considered on a space-available basis.

With the new rules, a student who transfers between district schools will have to show a hardship or special circumstance to be granted varsity eligibility. If a hardship isn’t proven, a student-athlete must play junior varsity sports for one year.

The WIAA currently doesn’t have a policy for intra-district transfers and leaves the decisions up to individual institutions. The new policy will take effect before the 2008-09 school year. The WIAA is holding a state-wide meeting on May 13 to go over the specifics of the new transfer rules, according to Flynn.

In Federal Way, it would mean all intradistrict transfers of students who participate in sports would have to go through the West Central District eligibility committee. Currently, only student-athletes transferring from outside the district have to go through the district committee.

“I didn’t think it would pass because the mechanics are so huge,” Flynn said.

The proposed WIAA amendment wouldn’t change Federal Way’s Choice policy, according to Flynn.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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