Phoenix Westwind Prep Academy’s membership with the Arizona Interscholastic Association has been rescinded by the AIA Executive Board, associate executive director Chuck Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that Westwind Prep was in violation of the AIA finance bylaw 9.1.3 that states that the executive board can drop a school from its membership if it does not pay its membership dues, participation fees, athletic mileage and student-excess accident (catastrophic) insurance premiums or make payment arrangements with the board before Oct. 1.
Athletic Director and basketball director Jeff De Laveaga said he believes this is retaliation for the national boys high school basketball team playing in two California tournaments in the past two weeks against CIF schools without being sanctioned to play in them. The national team that features players from in-state and out-of-state is not affiliated with the AIA.
Westwind has two high school teams and a post-grad team. The boys basketball varsity was the only sport with which Westwind Prep had an AIA membership. The football and girls basketball teams have already moved into the Charter Athletic Association.
Westwind Prep superintendent Debra Slagle said in an e-mail that the school was notified of the AIA board’s decision Tuesday morning.
“I asked Chuck Schmidt if the AIA has a process for appealing this decision or for reinstatement of membership,” Slagle wrote. “He indicated that there is none.”
She said she was going to meet with the Westwind leadership team today to determine whether or not it wanted to request a meeting with the AIA Executive Board. If reinstatement isn’t an option, the boys basketball team will compete in the CAA, effective immediately.
She said that the national high school and post-grad teams will continue with their existing schedules.
De Laveaga said the AIA varsity basketball team has already begun the process of scheduling the remainder of its games in the CAA, where Westwind Prep also will play in tournaments.
De Laveaga said Michael Carter, whose transfer hardship was denied by the AIA, will be able to play immediately.
“They sent us an invoice for $5,400 that included referees’ fees and we said, ‘This is not correct,’ ” de Laveaga said. “They sent another that was $3,300. We sent one for $1,500. We missed a date. They used three wrong invoices first.
“For eight years, we always paid those invoices. We always paid later than you can. Nobody thought something different. We never paid our dues early.”
Schmidt said in a text that other schools in the past did not pay the dues in time, and “the same process had been followed” with memberships being rescinded.
“Every effort was made on our part to try to come up with a resolution,” Schmidt said.
Slagle said Westwind Prep Academy was not notified it was on the AIA board meeting agenda Monday.
She said in an e-mail that Westwind Principal Matt Allen asked Schmidt if the board would reinstate the charter school’s membership if he took a check with the money owed directly to the AIA on Tuesday morning. She said he was told no.
“Even if they felt the need to rescind our membership, if there was truly a consideration of kids, they would have made it effective at the end of this current season, you would think,” she said.
She said Westwind took heat for withdrawing from the McClintock holiday tournament after Christmas, but she felt the AIA left opposing schools without games on their schedules. Westwind Prep, which captured a Class 2A title two years ago, was competing in Division I, the highest level in Arizona.
She felt, “some individuals were looking for a way to exit us from the organization.”