A request by the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders to be shifted from a Class 6A district to a Class 5A one was denied Tuesday by a University Interscholastic League committee.
Similarly, an appeal by Marble Falls High to switch from District 17-5A to District 18-5A for every sport but football also was denied.
Officials at Ann Richards, a girls-only school in South Austin, had requested that the school’s athletic teams be part of District 25-5A, joining such Austin schools as Reagan, Crockett and McCallum. Those three schools reported enrollments to the UIL that ranged from 1,262 students at Reagan to 1,764 at McCallum.
Ann Richards reported an enrollment of 414 students to the UIL this past fall for the purpose of the organization’s biennial reclassification and realignment. Under UIL guidelines, that enrollment figure was doubled to 828 because there are no boys at Ann Richards.
With the UIL committee’s decision, Ann Richards will now compete against such schools as Lake Travis (3,085 students), Bowie (2,873) and Westlake (2,706) during the next two school years. The Stars field teams in volleyball, soccer, swimming, track and field and cross country.
“We have great respect for the UIL and the proccess they have in place,” said Leal Anderson, athletic director for the Austin school district, after Tuesday’s ruling. “We respect their opinion and we’re going to play.”
Anderson added that Ann Richards’ athletic teams will face a “difficult battle” against their 25-6A opponents.
In an effort to discourage improper recruiting of athletes, 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 uses a lottery to set its student body and does not pinpoint certain students to accept.
All told, the UIL District Assignment Appeals Committee heard 10 schools’ appeals Tuesday. The only school to win its appeal was Granbury, which was allowed to switch Class 5A districts for sports other than football.
Ann Richards filed its appeal after failing to gain unanimous approval for its proposed shift from all the effected schools in 25-5A and 25-6A. The 17 schools voted 16-1 in early February to allow the shift. Lockhart voted no, forcing Ann Richards to appeal to the UIL.
“Lockhart ISD will always make decisions that prioritize what is best for our students,” Lockart ISD superintendent Susan K. Bohn said in a statement.
After UIL realignments in 2012 and 2016, Lockhart requested to shift into districts populated by Austin schools. In both instances, Austin schools voted against Lockhart’s request and Lockhart also lost its appeals to the UIL.
Sheila Henderson, Lockhart’s athletic director, has declined to say why her school voted against Ann Richards’ request.