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High School Transfer Eligibility Rules Change

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CHARLESTON -

New transfer eligibility rules are in effect for high school athletes.

The new transfer rule is fairly easy to understand. After a student's ninth grade year, every student is entitled to one transfer to a WVSSAC school within his or her residential attendance zone. That is regardless of whether the school the student is transferring to is public or private. There will be no penalty athletically. 

When it comes to the old transfer rule, local high school sports fans may remember the 2011 basketball season and the situation where the transfer rule effected Trinity star A.J. Mayle's eligibility. Mayle went to Trinity, a private school, for sixth and seventh grades. He attended Cheat Lake Middle, a public school, in eighth grade. Mayle enrolled at Trinity again for his freshman and sophomore years but went to a school in Pennsylvania for his junior year. As a senior, Mayle came back to Trinity and played for the 2011 basketball team when his eligibility came into question. 

The previous transfer back rule stated that a student could go from a private to public school and not face any penalties athletically. However, if an athlete wanted to transfer from a public to private school, and avoid sitting out a year from athletics, he or she had to have been enrolled in the private school's feeder middle school in eighth grade. That situation established a home school. It is the same for transferring from a non WVSSAC school to a member school, which is what Mayle did. 

In the case of A.J. Mayle, he had attended Cheat Lake Middle, so when he transferred back to Trinity his senior year, he was deemed ineligible to play basketball. To be able to participate in athletics, he would have had to attend the school Cheat Lake Middle feeds into, University High. 

In December 2011 a Monongalia County Circuit judge issued an injunction that allowed Mayle to play and invalidated the rule, saying it did not treat public and private schools equally. Mayle finished out the season with Trinity, the Warriors were not forced to forfeit any games and finished runner up at the state tournament that year. 

The new transfer rule puts public and private schools on equal ground and allows each student one transfer after ninth grade. 

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Press release from the West Virginia Department of Education:

Students transferring between public and private schools are on a level playing field following the approval of an updated West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) rule.

During its June 2012 meeting, West Virginia Board of Education members unanimously approved updates to two polices. The first set of changes clarified middle school enrollment and team membership; student eligibility to practice; and the terms under which an individual must be removed from an event if a violation occurs.

The approved changes will also place all students attending WVSSAC member schools on equal footing in regard to attendance zones and transfers. A Monongalia County Circuit judge invalidated current rules governing student transfers in a December 2011 decision that said the WVSSAC does not treat public and private member schools the same in considering certain types of transfers. Now, after the ninth grade year, all students will be entitled to one transfer back to a member school within his or her residential attendance zone regardless of whether that school is a public or non-public school.

Each year, the principals of WVSSAC member schools submit revisions to the rules and regulations. The submitted proposals are presented and voted upon at the annual Board of Control meeting. Any approved changes are then submitted to the West Virginia State Board of Education for its review and final approval.