A football player who last week sued his school district over a year-old transfer policy will drop his suit in exchange for playing eligibility.
The agreement allowing 18-year-old Justin Fragnito to play for Sickles High School was reached during a closed-door executive session of the school board last night, according to The Tampa Tribune.
"They're very appreciative, very thankful to the school board," said Peter Hobson, the attorney representing the Fragnito family. Hobson had argued that the district policy contradicts Florida state law by not allowing Fragnito to play. As of this writing, the agreement is still pending Florida High School Athletics Association notification and official school board approval. The school board meets again on Tuesday. The football playoffs begin Friday.
"We're of the opinion that when a student transfers from one high school to another and the school board approves that student to enroll in that school, he or she is eligible to participate in athletic events that year, the first day of school," Hobson said. "The school board thinks that because FHSAA says if you want to be more strict, you can. You can't be more strict to deny someone a state right."
More from the Tribune:
Fragnito transferred to Sickles from Jesuit High School in the spring semester of last school year. He had not participated in school sports at Jesuit since his freshman year.
He has been attending practices with the Sickles football team, according to the lawsuit, filed last week in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Fragnito lives in the correct zone to attend Sickles.
The school district in fall 2012 enacted its new athletic transfer policy, which states any student who transfers to a high school other than their designated zoned school and who intends to participate in sports will be barred from athletics there for one calendar year.
Everyone who transfers to another high school, whether it be by moving or school choice, is ineligible to play sports unless cleared during an appeal by the Transferring Student-Athletes Participation Committee.
The policy was enacted the year after Armwood High School was stripped of its state football title and 26 victories dating back to 2010 and fined thousands of dollars, the result of a Florida High School Athletics Association ruling that parents of five football players falsified addresses to enroll at the school.
The district's policy is stricter than the rules set by the FHSAA, which state that students who transfer to a new school are eligible to play sports if they have been enrolled there since the beginning of the current school year.The FHSAA says its rules are meant to be a baseline and that individual school districts can adopt stricter rules.