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Gretna school district responds to NSAA football championship ruling

Gretna Public Schools said in a statement that the complaint was filed by Westside.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:57 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Fallout continued Friday from the shocking ruling from the NSAA board that stripped Gretna of its 2021 Class A high school football title.

In late November, Gretna beat Westside 7-3 at Memorial Stadium. But the decision from Thursday’s NSAA hearing that Gretna failed to comply with its constitution and bylaws — specifically about the ineligibility of a Gretna football player — means there won’t be a Class A state football champion.

Noting that the district had filed an appeal, which was addressed at the organization’s meeting Thursday, the response from Gretna Public Schools on Friday said “there was never any dishonesty or deceit” in the matter, and the family involved did nothing wrong.

“The family of our student in question provided the necessary enrollment documentation to GPS, and GPS verified that the student’s residence was within the District and that the student was living with his father at that residence,” the district statement says. “It is important to note that the student and his family did nothing wrong and it is our sincere belief that there was never any dishonesty or deceit on their part or on the part of the District.”

The release states that the district had been notified Dec. 21 of a complaint from Omaha Westside High School about the player’s ineligibility.

“While GPS was completely surprised at such an allegation, GPS staff cooperated and provided the NSAA with all requested information because it was our belief that such allegation was unfounded,” the release states.

The district said it was “disappointed” that the matter hadn’t been handled more privately.

“We requested a closed hearing eight days prior to Thursday’s scheduled hearing date in order to protect the student and the family from the disclosure of sensitive, personal and potential confidential information protected by student privacy laws. At Thursday’s meeting, we were very disappointed when we heard our student’s name announced in the open portion of the meeting in the presence of the news media prior to the hearing being closed,” the release states.

In early December 2021, GPS was notified by the NSAA that a complaint from Omaha Westside High School had been received which alleged that an ineligible student participated on the Gretna High School varsity football team during the 2021-22 season.

Westside Superintendent Mike Lucas tweeted Thursday night, refuting allegations that he or anyone with Westside Community Schools had filed the complaint against Gretna, saying: “We’ve had plenty of other things to worry about... since then.”

Read the Gretna school district’s response

January 21, 2022: The Gretna Public School District is very disappointed with the decision of the NSAA Board of Directors to forfeit games that were played during the 2021 season and to vacate the Gretna High School Dragons’ 2021 Class A State Football Championship.

In early December 2021, GPS was notified by the NSAA that a complaint from Omaha Westside High School had been received which alleged that an ineligible student participated on the Gretna High School varsity football team during the 2021-22 season. While GPS was completely surprised at such an allegation, GPS staff cooperated and provided the NSAA with all requested information because it was our belief that such allegation was unfounded.

On December 29, 2021, GPS received the initial decision from the NSAA Executive Director which concluded that an ineligible student had indeed participated during the 2021 season. GPS was shocked and surprised at the executive director’s decision because GPS is a “closed district.” This means that GPS does not permit any open enrollment students who live outside of GPS’s boundaries to attend any of the 10 outstanding schools in the District. Each and every student that is enrolled in all 10 of the District’s schools lives within the boundaries of the District. We require each and every student to provide proof of residency within the District’s boundaries prior to enrollment and this requirement is strenuously enforced without any exceptions.

After we received the executive director’s initial decision, we immediately sought legal counsel and filed an appeal to be heard by the NSAA Board of Directors. Additionally, we requested a closed hearing eight days prior to Thursday’s scheduled hearing date in order to protect the student and the family from the disclosure of sensitive, personal and potential confidential information protected by student privacy laws. At Thursday’s meeting, we were very disappointed when we heard our student’s name announced in the open portion of the meeting in the presence of the news media prior to the hearing being closed.

The family of our student in question provided the necessary enrollment documentation to GPS, and GPS verified that the student’s residence was within the District and that the student was living with his father at that residence.

It is important to note that the student and his family did nothing wrong and it is our sincere belief that there was never any dishonesty or deceit on their part or on the part of the District.

While everyone is disappointed with the outcome, we will continue to support the student, the family, our team, all of our students and the entire Gretna schools’ community throughout this process.

Gretna Public Schools

Producer Chase Moffitt contributed to this story.

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