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Private schools win arbitration hearing over CIF

March 07, 2014|By Eric Sondheimer

Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy's haveĀ  won their arbitration cases against the CIF Southern Section and will remain in their current sports areas for the upcoming re-leaguing cycle from 2014-18.

It will force the Northern Area, Mt. SAC and parochial areas to meet again and start over their re-leaguing process. Those areas had already created new leagues without the four schools.

The Southern Section was scheduled to release its new playoff divisions for football on March 16, but that is expected to be delayed.

Asked for reaction about all four schools winning their cases, St. Bonaventure Principal Marc Groff said, "I don't think any of us did [see this coming]."

"I'm absolutely thankful we'll be going back up here. It's where we belong."

Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure would have been joining football leagues based mostly in the San Fernando Valley and were expected to be in the Pac-5 Division. They competed in the Marmonte League last season that was also in the Pac-5. Oaks Christian is expected to try to join the Marmonte League for all sports.

The arbitration sweep brings to a close months of legal maneuvering between the Southern Section and the schools. The Southern Section had decided to move the schools to the parochial area, putting them with other private schools. The schools filed federal lawsuits seeking to prevent the moves.

The parties agreed to binding arbitration. The hearing was held earlier this week and the retired judge announced his decision on Friday.

Now comes the scrambling to create new leagues under an expedited schedule. It usually takes months to put together leagues. The parties agreed to a 50-day schedule, Groff said.

"All the schedules are out the door," Moorpark Athletic Director Rob Dearborn said. "I think a lot of people are going to be unhappy."

The Catholic Athletic Assn. has already scheduled a meeting for March 27 to put together new leagues that now won't include St. Bonaventure, Oaks Christian or Damien.

One likely outcome is that Crespi and Notre Dame are expected to return to the same league. They had scheduled a nonleague game this fall in football, because they were scheduled to be in different leagues.

But there's going to be a big debate over what to do with Chaminade and Gardena Serra in football. Both were scheduled to change football leagues and likely play in the Pac-5 Division this fall.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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