Oklahoma City accepts judges ruling on bad call; won't appeal
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Oklahoma City Public Schools will not appeal a judge's ruling that denies their injunction request against the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association regarding the State 3A playoff games.
Oklahoma County District Judge Bernard Jones ruled that the court should not interfere in the outcome of the high school football game where and OSSAA official misapplied a rule and took what would have been Douglass' game-winning touchdown points away from the team. Judge Jones issued his ruling Thursday morning after hearing from both sides Wednesday afternoon.
The ruling makes the win by Locust Grove valid and allows that 3A playoffs to continue. The OSSAA scheduled the next game pitting Locust Grove against Heritage Hall for Friday at 7:00 in Sapulpa.
Oklahoma City Public Schools general counsel Brandon Carey said the district is disappointed in the judge's ruling, but the school will accept the ruling. "The judge's order, at this point, is good enough for us," Carey told reporters, "And we are not going to take this any further."
Carey said the district went to court to fight for students and for what everyone agreed was a bad decision and violation of the rules. He does not regret any actions of the district. "All you have to do on our end to know whether or not it's worth it is to look those student athletes in the face," Carey said.
Carey said students have learned a difficult life lesson, but he hopes the athletes walk away with another important message. "We're here for them and we support them and we have their back and we felt like we had to take a stand for them in this situation."
Oklahoma City Public Schools announced they are willing to work with the OSSAA to find a way to prevent future mistakes, like this one, and prevent future court appearances. Carey suggested the OSSAA could adopt one simple rule that could do just that. "The head official of every game should have the rule book in their pocket that would make it a lot easier and probably would have prevented what we have here today."
OSSAA Executive Director Ed Sheakley denied our requests for an interview and did not answer Fox 25's questions if the organization will make any changes following the controversy. The written press release from the OSSAA quoted Sheakley as calling the current controversy a "difficult one." Sheakley is quoted saying "We appreciate that the judge looked at this situation carefully, and concluded that judicial intervention was not appropriate in these circumstances."
"All of this issue has been another episode in bringing attention to OSSAA and it does seem like there are a lot of good questions being asked," said State Senator David Holt, R-Bethany.
Holt has been supportive of Douglass and said the controversy has brought several additional lawmakers to the table in regards to discussing potential legislative oversight of the nonprofit organization.
"I haven't been as involved in that issue as people like [Representative] Bobby Cleveland but we're talking a lot now and I think that is to the detriment of OSSAA if they're not going to change the status quo that they have now picked a whole bunch more people that are interested in what they're doing over there," Holt told Fox 25.
While some in the public have been critical of lawmakers trying to address extra-curricular activities while there are other problems in education, Holt said he sympathizes with their concerns. "People can say, that there are a lot of issues in education that are important and I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time; I care about those too, but I know also that this is important."
Holt said he is appreciative that, while the game may not go in the official win column, the entire community has been supportive of the team that did score the most points. Though he says he regrets the adults in the community and in the OSSAA were not able to figure out a way to make the situation better.
"People would say, 'Maybe this is good for them they'll learn that life isn't fair;' Kids at Douglass know that life isn't fair and we didn't need to reinforce that and that isn't something we need to be pursuing," Holt said, "If an organization like OSSAA is teaching our kids that life isn't fair I think we need to reassess the job they are doing."