D56 & Lawsuit : No Union County in Region 3 3-A
Districts file legal action about Union County in AAA
Five school districts are challenging in court one school district’s move into their athletics conference.
Union County has been assigned by the SC High School League to Region 3 AAA starting this coming academic year, and District 56 is among the school systems challenging that action. The bottom line objection is, with 300 more students in Union that D56, the Yellow Jackets have a competitive advantage. The courts also will be asked to decide if the League handled the move properly and whether League officials violated the SC Freedom of Information Act.
In addition to D56, the lawsuit includes Spartanburg Districts 1, 2 and 4, and District 50 in Greenwood. For the high schools involved, it’s Clinton, Chapman, Chesnee, Woodruff and Emerald against Union County.
Filed in Richland County Common Pleas Court last Monday, the legal action is brought by Kenneth W. Nettles, representing the law firm of Lyles, Darr and Clark of Spartanburg. The SC High School League is based in Columbia, Richland County; and the legal action also includes Union County Schools. The matter went through League appeals, and after Union County was placed in Region 3, the superintendent of Spartanburg 4, Rallie Liston, talked about taking the matter to court.
Union County protested its inclusion in a Greenville-based region of Class AAAA (region two) because of travel and time away from class concerns for its student-athletes.
At first, the League’s Executive Committee denied Union’s appeal, 14-0, and then, the League’s Appellate Assembly voted in Union’s favor, 4-3. The five districts that have filed the lawsuit appealed again, and this time the Appellate Assembly ruled 7-0 in Union’s favor. That left court was the final stop for the five districts.
Pending legal action, Region 3 AAA this coming sports season will be Clinton, Newberry, Mid-Carolina, Woodruff, Union County and Emerald. Chapman and Broome are out of the region, realigned into other AAA regions. If Union County is ordered back into AAAA, its region likely would be Union, Eastside, Greer, Blue Ridge and Travelers Rest.
The five school districts filing the legal action want Union County’s move to Region 3 AAA voided, and the High School League and affiliate groups declared public bodies subject to FOIA and requiring official notifications of when moves like this are proposed in the future. League rules now say it can notify affected districts of realignment, but it does not have to make that notification.
District 56 and others said at key points in this realignment, it received no League notifications.