Recent changes made by the California Interscholastic Federation in regards to transfers have little effect to students within Madera Unified School District.
The district’s 365-day transfer policy remains in effect if students transfer between Madera and Madera South high schools, MUSD director of athletics Marty Bitter said.
“School districts, board policy and bylaws supersede CIF bylaws,” he said. “The CIF says that their rules and standards are the baseline. Districts can be more strict, but not less. We have, in our board policy (5116), said that any student who transfers from school A to school B, for whatever reason, is deemed ineligible for 365 days.”
Bitter said the only change the CIF did was take out the words “athletic motivation” as one of the criteria for determining eligibility.
“In the past, if you felt a kid was going from school A to school B for athletic reasons, that could be criteria for them to determine eligibility,” he said. “They took that out because it’s nearly impossible to prove. Hardly anybody had to sit out because of athletic motivation. Even though, you know students transfer for athletic reasons, you have to have concrete evidence they did that. That wasn’t nearly a problem in our section than it was in the southern sections. All they did was take out that little piece. Everything else in regards to eligibility remains the same.
“There is misconception that now they took out athletic motivation, athletes could go anywhere. That’s as far from the truth as possible from the CIF standpoint.”
Once a MUSD student enters middle school, that student-athlete is under that high school’s umbrella (Desmond and Martin Luther King middle school students attend Madera South and Thomas Jefferson Middle School students go to Madera).
“In elementary school, moves can be made,” Bitter said. “People move and that’s okay. Once they get to middle school, that’s where the determining factor is. That includes open enrollments, employee courtesy and everything except administratively placed student. That student is placed at the school. Between sixth and seventh grade, once they determine where they will go to middle school, that’s where the transfer rules begin.”
Once a student starts high school at Madera or Madera South, that student cannot transfer to the other school until after a 365-day period.
“Wherever you start that first day, that is your home school,” Bitter said. “We have a continuity policy. Even in high school, if I attend Madera High and move into the Madera South attendance area. I have two options. I could go to Madera South, but if I do that, I would not be able to play athletics for 365 days. If I started at Madera High and moved to Madera South and played athletics, I can stay at Madera High.”
However, transfers coming into and heading out of MUSD fall under CIF jurisdiction.
“In order for students to come into Madera, they would have to have an interdistrict transfer where the district they were leaving signed off on them and we would have to have room to keep them,” Bitter said. “Then, it goes to the CIF. Generally, if we are getting an interdistrict transfer and the districts sign off on them, it’s going to be okay. That’s not always the case. Even within Madera Unified, transfers between Madera and Madera High, CIF paperwork is still done on those students.”
With the transfer policy in place, Bitter has not only seen a decrease in intradistrict transfers, but also more understanding from those who do transfer.
“Our students and families are doing a great job,” he said. “When we hear about the transfers, we make sure the families are notified and they know what the repercussions of the decisions are. We have students on both campuses sitting because of that. They understand the situation and it hasn’t been an issue. It has definitely decreased the number of students that want to go between the schools for various reasons.”
In the end, though, Bitter would love to see athletes stay at the school they started and each MUSD school have equitable athletics.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure both schools are doing what they can to make athletes successful,” Bitter said. “I want the parents in the community to know that wherever I send my kid, he’s going to be coached and have opportunity. Is that the case? Maybe it’s utopia, but that’s the goal. The match-ups between the two schools have come a long way.”