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White-Ciluffo v. Iowa Department of Education

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

KALEY WHITE-CILUFFO, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
IOWA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Respondent-Appellee. And IOWA GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC UNION, Intervenor-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul D. Scott, Judge.

         Kaley White-Ciluffo appeals from the district court's ruling denying and dismissing her petition for judicial review of a decision by the Iowa Department of Education.

          Howard L. Jacobs of Law Office of Howard L. Jacobs, Westlake, California, and Alan O. Olson of Olson Law Office P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meghan L. Gavin (until withdrawal) and Renner K. Walker, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

          Spencer S. Cady, Ryan G. Koopmans (until withdrawal), and Brad C. Epperly of Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Des Moines, for intervenor-appellee.

          Patrick B. White of White Law Office, P.C., West Des Moines, and Steven J. Thompson, Brittany A. Bogaerts, and David M. Pattee of Nixon Peabody L.L.P., Chicago, Illinois, for amicus curiae.

          Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         Kaley White-Ciluffo appeals from the district court's ruling denying and dismissing her petition for judicial review of a decision by the Iowa Department of Education. She argues the district court erred in (1) determining her constitutional rights to substantive due process and equal protection were not violated by Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-36.15(2)(h) (the Collegiate Rule) and (2) finding new evidence presented by White-Ciluffo was immaterial to her claim. Upon our review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         White-Ciluffo competed in the track and field program as a student-athlete for Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf. In 2014, when White-Ciluffo was a junior in high school, she competed in the state track meet as a member of the Pleasant Valley girls' track team. She broke the state record for the 800-meter event and placed second in the 1500-meter race. She also helped her distance medley relay team place first. Due in large part to White-Ciluffo's performance at the meet, the Pleasant Valley girls' team won the 4A championship title. White-Ciluffo graduated from Pleasant Valley in 2015.

         Prior to the 2014 interscholastic track and field season beginning, White-Ciluffo competed against collegiate-sponsored athletes in the one-mile event at an indoor meet held at Illinois Wesleyan University on February 8, 2014.

         A few weeks later, the Pleasant Valley Associate Principal for Student Activities, D'Anne Kroemer, met with White-Ciluffo, White-Ciluffo's mother Michelle White, and one of the team coaches. At the meeting, the coach discussed the expectations for all students participating in the school's track and field program. Kroemer discussed the Collegiate Rule and its implications and provided copies of the rule to White-Ciluffo and her mother. Kroemer made clear that in order for White-Ciluffo to maintain eligibility to participate in high school athletics, she could not compete against collegiate athletes who were representing their institutions. White-Ciluffo and her mother indicated they understood the expectations and the rule. Neither White-Ciluffo nor her mother informed Kroemer or the coach that White-Ciluffo had participated in the event held at Illinois Wesleyan University earlier that month. The following day, Kroemer followed up with White-Ciluffo and her mother by sending an e-mail summary of the meeting to White-Ciluffo, White, and track and field coaches Jane Wheeler and Kenny Wheeler. Kroemer asked White-Ciluffo and White to provide her with the details of any events in which White-Ciluffo wished to participate, and Kroemer and a coach would then sign a non-school participation contract prior to the event. Several days later, White-Ciluffo's mother responded to the e-mail thanking Kroemer for the meeting and for providing the necessary forms and important information.

         White-Ciluffo then competed against college athletes representing their respective schools twice more. On April 5, White-Ciluffo competed in the 800-meter race at a meet held at Princeton University. On June 7, White-Ciluffo competed in the 800-meter event at a meet held at a high school in New Jersey.

         On June 23, Coach Kenny Wheeler learned of White-Ciluffo's participation in these events and contacted Kroemer. Kroemer reported the possible violations to Mike Dick, the Executive Director of the Iowa Girls' High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) immediately and informed White-Ciluffo of the potential consequences. Kroemer also informed school administrators of the situation.

         Upon investigation, the IGHSAU officially declared White-Ciluffo ineligible to participate in the 2014 and 2015 interscholastic track and field seasons, [1]effectively stripping White-Ciluffo of her 2014 state record and results and requiring Pleasant Valley to return the state championship trophy. The school contested the decision, accepting White-Ciluffo's eligibility determination but seeking leniency for the school and the other athletes on the girls' track team. The five-member Board of Directors of the IGHSAU unanimously upheld the Director's decision.[2] Pleasant Valley did not appeal the Board's decision.

         White-Ciluffo appealed the IGHSAU's ineligibility decision to the Iowa Department of Education. Thereafter, an administrative law judge in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Division of Administrative Hearings held a contested hearing, presiding on behalf of the Director of the Iowa Department of Education. The Department of Education affirmed the decision of the IGHSAU Board of Directors, finding White-Ciluffo had violated the Collegiate Rule by competing in track meets against athletes sponsored by their respective colleges or universities and determining she was ineligible to compete in high school track and field events for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The ruling preserved ...


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