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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Pahokee will not appeal a Florida High School Athletic Association panel's denial of a waiver that would have led to the reinstatement of the Class 1A state football championship it won in December.
The decision came soon after the FHSAA's Infractions Appeals Committee turned away the school's request for an undue hardship waiver for the student who was at the center of sanctions that were levied in January, school district spokeswoman Kathy Burstein said Thursday.
The student, who was in his fifth year of school and deemed ineligible to play high school athletics, and his mother testified at a Feb. 21 hearing conducted by the FHSAA panel, along with Pahokee principal Michael Aronson and Palm Beach County School District attorney Lisa Carmona.
The school claimed a data-entry error resulted in an extra year of play for the student, who played this season as a non-traditional student. He did not attend Pahokee.
Aronson said during last month's hearing that the school would have requested a hardship waiver for the student -- whose father suffered a stroke and whose mother battled cancer while he was in high school -- if he had been flagged as ineligible prior to the season.
The committee said the school should have had more oversight in reviewing the student's academic information before allowing him to play , and denied its motion for a hardship waiver.
After the appeal was denied, the school decided not to appeal that decision to the FHSAA's Board of Directors, Burstein said.
"Regardless of today's ruling, I am proud of the accomplishments of these young men, both on and off the field," Aronson said last month. "We remain Pahokee Proud."
Had the state title been reinstated, it would have been the seventh overall for the Blue Devils, who defeated Baker 34-21 in the Class 1A state title game in Orlando and finished 14-0.
Instead, the state championship will remain vacant. Pahokee players will get to keep their individual medals, but the school will have to return the state championship trophy.
The Blue Devils also forfeited all 14 wins from the season.
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