- Rick Cantu American-Statesman Staff
The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders has filed a formal appeal with the University Interscholastic League, asking to be shifted from a Class 6A district to a Class 5A grouping.
Last week, UIL officials announced that as part of the organization’s biennial reclassification and realignment, Ann Richards had been placed in District 25-6A for the next two school years. The enrollments reported by the other schools in that district range from 2,222 to 3,334 students. In contrast, Ann Richards reported an enrollment of 414 to UIL officials. For realignment purposes, the figure was doubled to 828 since no boys attend the school.
Ann Richards’ interim principal, Kristina Waugh, confirmed Friday that the school had appealed the UIL’s decision. Waugh said she hopes the matter can be resolved before Feb. 20, when school officials are scheduled to appear before the UIL committee hearing appeals.
Under UIL rules, a school seeking to change districts must have unanimous approval from the schools in both of the affected districts. The vote of the 17 schools affected was 16-1 in favor of allowing Ann Richards to join District 25-5A, with Lockhart, a member of 25-5A, voting no.
Waugh said she and Ann Richards’ athletic coordinator, Meg Brown, hope to persuade Lockhart athletic director Sheila Henderson to change her vote before the Feb. 20 appeals meeting.
“We’re always going to compete, academically and in athletics, at the highest level,” Waugh said. “I’m concerned because it’s unfair for us because of the numbers of kids (from other schools) we’d have to play against.”
Henderson has declined to offer specifics as to why Lockhart voted against Ann Richards’ request to shift districts.
UIL rules call for magnet schools to be placed in the same classification as the school with the highest enrollment in their school district. However, Ann Richards officials said their school, part of the Austin school district, uses a lottery to set its student body and does not pinpoint certain students to accept.
“It’s not like Ann Richards is a powerhouse in sports,” Brown said. “I would understand (Lockhart’s position) more if we were winning district titles, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. … I would hate for all the hard work to build these athletic programs while playing at the 5A level to be demoralized.”