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Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015: Bennett parents not giving up the fight

   Leading off today: While a fair chunk of the New York football community is still trying to figure out how the team was able to drop down to Class C this fall, supporters of the Buffalo Bennett football team have launched a racial bias allegation regarding officiating during a loss in the Section 6 final this month.

   The Buffalo Parent-Student Athletic Organization filed complaints with Section 6, the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association, the state education commissioner's office and U.S. Department of Education requesting a review of bias and discriminatory officiating, The Buffalo News reported Tuesday. They're also seeking a review of NYSPHSAA policies and practices during a 29-28 loss in overtime to Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake in the championship game.

   The Section 6 Athletic Council added the matter to the agenda for Wednesday's meeting. As anyone who's faced similar scrutiny will attest, a potential probe by the U.S. Department of Education qualifies as a major problem, though there's no guarantee its Office for Civil Rights will take any action.

   Flanked by parents and other Bennett supporters, Samuel L. Radford III, the president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said he took the lead in voicing concerns after receiving a call from an upset parent who felt the team wasn't treated fairly by an all-white officiating crew.

   "If you feel something is not right, you should have the right at due process," Radford said. "We did review the tape that the parents referenced and saw the situation that the parents were referencing."

   Several accounts of the game reported Bennett was penalized 14 times to six for Maple Grove, a difference that left coach Steven McDuffie irate after the game. The call that most angered the Bennett contingent came with Maple Grove driving for the game-tying touchdown that forced overtime, the paper reported. A receiver made a catch over the middle and was quickly hit hard by Marcelus Toliver from the opposite direction. Toliver was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver to give the Dragons a first down inside the 10.

   McDuffie distanced himself from Monday's developments, telling the paper, "I'm moving on to next year. I have no involvement in this."

   Buffalo Public Schools AD Aubrey Lloyd and Section 6 President Brent Banker issued statements via email.

   "I know firsthand the character of the people that serve Section 6," Lloyd said. "Our district has always been accepted as equal partners at the section level. I have full confidence in the people and that the concerns brought up will be discussed."

   Said Banker: "I know that our officials are excellent at what they do."

   Robert Zayas, executive director of the state's largest governing body for high school sports, said in an email, "NYSPHSAA is an association of member schools. When and if, a member school brings something to our attention, we will work with the school and their section to address the issue."

   Numerically speaking: I alluded above to Bennett's status as a Class C football team with 362 students -- just three short of the team being kept in Class B in 2015. Here's a summary of why that caused more than a few puzzled looks all season:

   The football team was a combined program of Bennett (with a listed BEDS number of 234), Olmstead (237) and Alternative High (191). If you apply the NYSPHSAA formula for calculating the enrollment figure for merged programs, you arrive at 362, just under the Class C ceiling.

   Here's where the math gets confusing: The New York State Education Department website compiles BEDS data for all the state's public schools. When I did a random check of 10 high schools across the state, there were five instances of the NYSED data exactly matching the BEDS figure on the NYSPHSAA website. The five other schools showed differences of 1, 2, 2, 2 and 4 students between the two data sources.

   In addition, the numbers for Olmstead and Alternative were exact matches. However, Bennett's numbers amount to a head-scratcher. The NYSPHSAA lists Bennett's enrollment based on grades 9-11 in October 2015 at 234, but the NYSED site's numbers add up to 264.

   The 30-student difference is way out of line with those other schools I checked, and the additional students would have easily kept Bennett in Class B. I always assumed there was some sort recalculation issue that may have been related to Bennett essentially having no freshman class in the building last year, and it more or less became a moot point for the rest of the state once Bennett was eliminated by Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake.


  • 2015 NYSPHSAA football brackets
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  •    If anyone can explain the numbers, shoot me a line.

       Section 5 update: I attended the Section 5 Athletic Council meeting this morning, but former Democrat and Chronicle colleague James Johnson beat me to the punch in filing an update of developments in the latest flare-up of the public vs. private debate.

       Executive Director Ed Stores was the point person in dialing down the speculation/hope/fear (choose one) that the section is on its way to booting private schools out of the postseason -- or out of the section entirely.

       "You had people thinking that we were going to meet and throw the private schools out," Stores said. "We are not doing that, not even close. I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but that's not the goal."

       In addition, even the committee exploring options for a "parallel" playoff system that would have separated sectional tournaments for private and public schools and then brought champions together to decide berths in the state tournament, has opted to stand down for now after examining some of the logistics involved.

       You can read the full Democrat and Chronicle story here. I'm going to channel my energy into trying to piece together a bit of an analysis for a blog to run Wednesday or Thursday. Specifically, I think 18 Monroe County school superintendents miscalculated in their bid to throw private schools out of the Section 5 and state postseason competitions.

       Surprise departure: Bob Elmer, who coached West Genesee to 313 victories and seven NYSPHSAA championships in girls lacrosse over 16 seasons, has resigned from teaching and coaching, reported.

       West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown said Elmer, a social studies teacher in the district since 1993, has submitted his resignation. It will be accepted by the Board of Education at Wednesday night's meeting.

       "I have decided to retire for personal reasons," Elmer said in a text message, adding he wanted to spend more time with his family.

       The Wildcats have won eight of the last nine Section 3 Class A championships.

       It's all, uh, downhill from here: Fearing longer trips to meets, increased costs and the possibility of fed-up athletes quitting, some Section 1 alpine ski coaches have assailed a 2015-16 ski schedule that will require teams to ski in both Putnam County and New Jersey.

       Suffern's Andy Guccione told The Journal News he and several other Ads would petition the Section 1 Championship Committee to revamp the schedule to allow the Southern teams to ski all of their races at Campgaw Mountain in Mahway, N.J., and the Northern teams to ski all of their races at Thunder Ridge in Patterson.

       That may meet resistance. Northern Division coordinator Jane Singh said Thunder Ridge's slalom course is better than that at Campgaw, which has a superior giant slalom course.

       The deeper you read in the story, the more obvious it becomes there are frayed nerves and hard feelings in the school skiing community.

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