The Illinois High School Association (“IHSA”) will be hit with a lawsuit later today from Tom DeVore, filing on behalf of himself and his children.
IHSA issued a Return to Play Plan for sporting activities only to have the plan tossed due to confirmed COVID-19 cases in one school in northern Illinois, Lake Zurich. Ten students and one parent tested positive, and from that one event, IHSA has issued new mandates for the entire state.
Emails obtained point to the IHSA Executive Director telling the IHSA Administrators the changes are tied to “some recent outbreaks at some schools and the contradiction in guidance between our guidance and those of ISBE.” The truth of the matter, it was not due to outbreaks at “some schools” but rather one school as confirmed in the email.
More disturbing in the uncovered communications is the collusion between IDPH, Office of the Governor, and IHSA, a private organization. Communications confirm IDPH and the Governor’s Office “approving” plans for the private association, which include issuing directives.
IDPH and the Governor’s Office have no authority to be issuing “required directives” to a private association. Nor does IDPH or the Governor’s Office have any authority to “approve” plans of the IHSA, yet communications point to that taking place. (see emails here and here)
The following three new rules, which were a directive from the Governor, were added by the Executive Director of IHSA without going through the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, who, we understand, are against the mandate of a face mask while engaging in physical activity:
- There cannot be any contact drills/physical contact among athletes.
- All persons must always wear masks. (We are working to determine if this includes outside while social distancing.)
- There must be a strict 50 person limit to all indoor activities, and that would include any spectators (people in those groups should also socially distance).
As if IDPH and the Governor abusing their power by issuing illegal directives and approvals to private associations is not enough, we are back to the enforcement authority.
Why would IHSA issue these draconian “required directives” knowing they have no legal basis to enforce any of it?
According to the IHSA Executive Director, when asked about the legality and enforcement of these directives approved by the Governor and IDPH, the answer confirms what we already knew.
“In a “legal” sense one could argue that we have no provision to offer this guidance to our membership during the summer. However, our IHSA Board of Directors has approved of these guidelines to help support the safe return of activities for our membership. Between you and I, what we are providing our member schools is “guidance.” We have no intention to police individual schools for violations of our guidance and enforce penalties for non-compliance.
I think it’s been well documented that we are receiving approval of our guidance from government offices like IDPH and the Governor’s office to adhere to state guidelines as we prepare a safe return to activities.
Generally, I think schools are welcoming of some guidance from our association to create some common expectations for how we return safely.
Unfortunately, I do not have a citation to state our authority in this case. This is an unprecedented time where we are simply trying to support our membership. (Email)
We have said for years: “Says Who and With What Proof.”
In this case, the IHSA Executive Director says they have no provision to even offer this guidance to their membership, let alone any intention of policing it for violations. Sadly, in one breath he confirms they have no provision for the guidance to its members, then confirms the IHSA Board of Directors has approved of the guidelines. So are we to understand the Board of Directors approve of something that they have no provision to offer such guidance in the first place?
Not only is there no provision for their actions, but he also confirms he does not have a citation to state their authority in this case. In short, they are implementing mandates to high schools statewide knowing they have no legal basis to do it, and IDPH and the Governor’s office are a party to this abuse of power.
This is a clear example of the Governor and IDPH not following the science and data, but rather ignoring it. Much like the Executive Orders, the Governor and IDPH are pushing a one size fits all plan to the State of Illinois but this time through IHSA, a private association who admits it has no intention of policing the Governor’s and IDPH’s directives.
At some point, the Governor and his State Agencies must be stopped from the ongoing exercise of power never given by the Legislature.
Once the Lawsuit against IHSA is filed we will update with a new article and copies of the lawsuit.