Dorsey High's football team will play as scheduled in the City Section semifinals after being ousted from and then returned to the playoffs Wednesday following a day of administrative wrangling.
Dorsey will play Fremont at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardena High. The winner advances to the City championship game Dec. 7 at the Coliseum.
"This has been a wild day," Dorsey Principal Evelyn Mahmud said. Dorsey defeated Westchester, 20-14, in a quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 21 at Westchester. But Dorsey came under investigation Monday after Westchester representatives contacted section administrators questioning the eligibility of several Dorsey players who previously attended Westchester.
Willie Crittendon, the director of school operations and safety for the Los Angeles Unified School District, met with Barbara Fiege, the section's director of athletics, and other section administrators on Tuesday and contacted Dorsey officials about the players who allegedly had academic issues that made them ineligible. Mahmud and Dons' Coach Paul Knox were among a Dorsey contingent that met Tuesday afternoon with Crittendon. At issue was a district policy regarding the number of credits a student is allowed to accumulate for service classes, such as serving as a teacher's aid, during his high school years.
Crittendon ruled Dorsey out of the playoffs Wednesday morning because one player had accumulated more than 10 service credits, which Crittendon believed violated a district guideline limiting service credits to a maximum of 10.
After she was informed of the decision, Mahmud appealed to her local district superintendent, Rene Jackson, believing that the policy had been misinterpreted. The matter was then brought to Merle Price, deputy superintendent of instructional services for LAUSD. Price sought the counsel of a district lawyer, who told him the guideline regarding the 10 service credits was recommended but not mandated.
"Recommended implies that there can be some discretion," Price said. Price forwarded his findings to Crittendon, who reversed his decision based on the district lawyer's legal interpretation.
Mahmud said Dorsey players were ecstatic when informed that they would play Fremont after all.
\o7 Staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.