37 PUBLIC INFORMATION -- A Republican Assemblywoman's bill to open the records of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) to public scrutiny has moved to the Assembly floor's consent calendar, amended to protect pupil privacy.

AB 352 by Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Westlake Village) would make CIF records subject to the California Public Records Act, with the exception of confidential information such as

pupil athletic eligibility appeal documents; investigative reports; or records or information obtained as a result of investigations into member school violations of California Intersc holastic Federation rules, that include information regarding pupils, school district personnel, or both, that may be protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. 1232g), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (45 C.F.R. 164.501 et seq.), this code, any applicable exception set forth in the California Public Records Act, and any other federal, state, or local statute protecting the confidentiality of pupil records and information . . .

Why the bill?  The short answer is that as the official rulemaker and regulator of high school intermural sports, the CIF is like a referee or umpire—acknowledged as necessary, but occasionally charged with being either too lax or too harsh. As a former teacher and coach, Strickland has taken a close interest in the fairness of CIF ruliings.

The following background is provided in the analysis prepared for the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, which passed the bill 11-0 yesterday, sending it to the floor.

Since 1914, the California Department of Education (CDE) has allowed the CIF, a voluntary association of schools, to regulate interscholastic athletics statewide. The CIF consists of ten regional sections, each of which is divided into several "leagues," for purposes of scheduling athletic contests, assigning referees, etc. Similar organizations exist in other states. Almost all public, private and parochial schools are CIF members.

The California Interscholastic Federation was organized at a high school athletic convention held at the Y.M.C.A. Field House, Los Angeles, on March 28, 1914. The primary responsibilities of CIF are to administer high school athletic programs and to promulgate and enforce rules relating to a student's involvement in athletics - age, semesters in school, scholarship, residence, transfer status, and amateur standing. Such regulations, which are generated by the 1,400 member base of high school students, provide for the welfare of participants, and ensure that interscholastic athletics offer major benefits to students in a safe, rewarding environment.

For purposes of administration, California is divided into the following 10 sections: Southern Section, Central Section, Los Angeles City Section, North Coast Section, Sac-Joaquin Section, Northern Section, Oakland City Section, San Francisco Section, San Diego Section and Central Coast Section. The State Federated Council has complete control of all State championships in high school athletics and may specify all details as to methods and places for conducting the contests. The CIF is one of the 50 state associations that belong to the National Federation of State High School Associations and actively participates in the national organization. Generally, rules recommended by the national body are adopted by CIF.

According to the author, because the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is a public entity whose authority to govern interscholastic sports in California was delegated by the Legislature, it is important their records be subject to the California Public Records Act (Act). The Act is designed to give the public access to information in possession of public agencies for the purposes of transparency and accountability to the public. AB 352 will declare the intent of the Legislature for the CIF to comply with the Act to promote transparency and accountability. There is a need for the CIF to comply with the Act so that the public has access to records or precedence often dealing with the eligibility of student athletes to participate in sports and CIF sanctions on students, teams, or schools that violate CIF policies.