Saying that principals should put academics before sports, about 50 students and parents protested Monday a district decision that will permit the Garden Grove High School football team to enter in interscholastic playoffs, even though the school inadvertently allowed a player with an unacceptably low grade-point average to play much of the season.
Chanting "cheaters can't be champs," marching and carrying signs at district headquarters, the protesters said they were concerned that the decision, made last weekend by a group of eight principals, set a bad precedent.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday November 18, 1992 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 2 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Garden Grove--An article Tuesday incorrectly stated the relationship of the Garden Grove Unified School District to the Garden Grove Athletic League. The league is independent of the district. The league made the decision to permit Garden Grove High to participate in upcoming football playoffs.
"It says that it's OK to cheat, and if you get caught and you know the right people, then you can get away with it," said Gina Parras, 17, a Pacifica High School student who helped organize the protest.
More important, Parras said, the decision appears to make playing in a football game more important than making good grades. "It should be academics first and sports later," she said.
The protesters included students from Pacifica High School and La Palma's John F. Kennedy High School, which is not part of the district but does play in the Garden Grove League.
They demanded the abolition of the district's unusual policy of permitting principals as a group to decide which team should represent the district in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section playoffs, rather than making the best win-loss record the deciding factor, as other districts do.
Under rules used elsewhere, the Garden Grove Argonauts' record would have disqualified the team from competing because four were forfeited. District and CIF rules prohibit students with a grade-point average below 2.0 from playing.
However, last weekend, as permitted by district policy, principals voted 5 to 3 to allow the Garden Grove team to play in the playoffs. The decision was made in part because the ineligible player was not crucial to the team and they felt the other players should not be penalized for an administrative error, Parras said.
"At this point, the entire matter is over. The vote's been taken. It's a done deal," said Pacifica Principal Mike Lombardi, who voted to prohibit Garden Grove from playing.
Pacifica, with the third-best league record, would have made the playoffs had not the principals voted to allow Garden Grove to participate.
Lombardi said he would like the district constitution to be changed to prevent similar situations in the future.
Linda Garcia, parent of a student at Pacifica, said she agreed, adding that the decision "has opened up a whole can of worms, not only for football but also for wrestling and soccer. What are we trying to teach our kids? All this teaches them is that they can cheat and get away with it."