On August 22, 2015, The Seattle Times released an article focusing on the Bellevue High School (BHS) Football team (Bellevue High’s football success aided by ‘diploma mill’). Upon review of the article, which included allegations of potential WIAA violations, Bellevue School District (BSD) and Bellevue High School administrators discussed the school and District’s responsibility to respond to the allegations.
It was determined that there were five areas where a response was necessary: whether BHS (football) coaches directed athletes to attend the Academic Institute, whether BHS boosters paid for tuition of athletes at Academic Institute, whether athletes used false addresses to gain eligibility, whether athletes received subsidized housing to gain eligibility, and whether coaches are coordinating tuition payment for athletes. As a result, the school and District made a request on August 28, 2015 to the WIAA for a fact-finding investigation relative to the identified areas of possible violation. On September 22, 2015, two fact-finders appointed by the WIAA began the investigation.
On Friday, April 1, 2016 the District received the investigation report from the WIAA. The report is comprehensive, complex and it took seven months to complete the investigation, therefore it is necessary to take the time to conduct a thorough analysis of the report. It has always been the intention of the District to respond to the requests for public disclosure given the high profile of this investigation. There have been numerous requests to release the report since the April 14, 2016 joint BSD-WIAA media release acknowledging receipt of the report.
I have heard concerns that the media release unfairly created the bias that those associated with the program, specifically the coaching staff and boosters are guilty of rules violations. I apologize if the release created this perception. The intent of the release was to acknowledge that the District had the report and is in the process of reviewing the facts and findings contained in the report relative to the allegations the BSD asked the WIAA to investigate. It is important to note that there have been no determinations made at this time.
Before the report can be released, it is imperative that the appropriate redactions are made to ensure that individual privacy is protected and the District is in compliance with the federal Family Educational Records and Privacy Act and the state Public Records Act. As the report is comprehensive and lengthy, this is a time consuming process. In addition, there are further conversations with witnesses that need to occur. It is anticipated that the District will be able to honor public records requests by Tuesday, April 26, 2016.
BSD and BHS administrators are currently in the process of verifying the findings and will need time to conduct further conversations and review of documents. It is important that the District conducts its own due diligence regarding the findings. Once BHS and BSD administrators have determined if there are violations or not, the school will inform the KingCo Conference of the determination in accordance with WIAA rules and regulations. We will keep our community informed as this process moves forward.
I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this process.
J. Tim Mills
Superintendent of Schools