Empire League principals approved the transfer of Kennedy and Pacifica high schools to the Garden Grove League Wednesday, but athletic directors and coaches in the Garden Grove League expressed concern that Kennedy may gain an unfair advantage by the realignment.
Warren Stephenson, Kennedy principal, said the eight Empire League principals unanimously approved the change, which had been unanimously approved Tuesday by Garden Grove League principals.
The move, which would leave the Garden Grove League with eight schools and the Empire League with six, would go into effect at the start of the 1987-1988 school year if CIF Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas gives his approval. Thomas told The Times Tuesday he would approve the proposal if all 14 principals agreed on the move.
However, some Garden Grove League athletic directors and coaches misunderstood the provision under which the schools would make the move and now believe that Kennedy may have a competitive edge.
Jim Perry, La Quinta athletic director and boys' basketball coach, said his understanding was that both Kennedy and Pacifica would have to abide by Garden Grove League rules, which prohibit schools from using their sixth-class period for interscholastic athletics.
Wednesday, he learned that student athletes at Kennedy, a member of the Anaheim Union High School District, will be able to use the sixth period for sports, as contracted between the district and its teachers.
Pacifica is a member of the Garden Grove Unified School District and already abides by the sixth-period restriction on sports.
"Our sixth period is a physical education period entitled athletics ," said Jene Mangan, director of instructional services for the Anaheim School District. "It is for students to warm up and tape and do whatever else is necessary for them to prepare to play or practice their sport."
Stephenson said most of the discussion in Wednesday's meeting centered on the two schools' declining enrollments and how that made competition against larger schools difficult.
"There really weren't any concerns voiced about the move from those who attended," he said.
"The only thing discussed about us entering the Garden Grove League was that we abide by its athletic constitution. When you talk about that athletic period, you're talking about a school district matter. That is something provided through our school district, it's not something that can be dictated by an athletic league. Our school district's policy goes above and beyond any athletic league's."
When informed Wednesday that Kennedy would not be changing its athletic period, Perry expressed both surprise and concern.
"That's news to me," he said. "It was my understanding that the move came with several stipulations, that they would have to get unanimous approval from both leagues and compliance by Kennedy to whatever our athletic norms were. That compliance was at the heart of the matter."
Said Alan Hall, Bolsa Grande athletic director: "When I walked out of the meeting Tuesday, I thought we'd agree to let them in, but that they (Kennedy) would abide by our rules, specifically the sixth-period rule."
But Jim DeLong, Garden Grove principal, said: "The sixth period has nothing to do with league rules. We can't dictate another school's curriculum. They have to conform to their school district rules, just like we have to conform to ours. That was understood at the meeting."
Still, Perry and others see Kennedy's entering the league in a new light.
"There's no doubt in my mind things would have been different at the meeting had I been aware of this," Perry said. "I don't think any coach in the league is in favor of having a school that doesn't have to comply with the sixth-period rule."
Bolsa Grande football Coach Greg Shadid was among several Garden Grove League coaches who said they were upset.
"Kennedy will have a distinct advantage over the Garden Grove District schools," Shadid said.
Said Hall: "I think this will definitely create some real animosity with some of our coaches. They're going to be screaming bloody murder when they hear about this."