The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge John W. Darrah
AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Matthew Lyon has filed suit against the Illinois High School Association ("IHSA") and filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. In Lyon's motion, he seeks to enjoin the IHSA from prohibiting him from participating in his high school's wrestling program as a fifth-year senior. Based on the discussion below, Lyon's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order is granted.
The following is a statement of factual allegations based on Plaintiff's Verified Complaint and attached exhibits. Plaintiff Matthew Lyon is a senior in high school at Gordon Tech College Prep in Chicago, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Lyon was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") in grade school, and he has been educated pursuant to an Individualized Education Plan, as provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (Id. ¶ 2.) Lyon began high school at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, California, where he began participating in the high school wrestling team as a freshman. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 19.) Due to academic problems caused by Lyon's ADHD, he was ruled academically ineligible to compete on his high school's wrestling team during the second semester of his junior year, the 2010-2011 academic school year. (Id. ¶ 20.)
Lyon moved from California to Illinois in March or April of 2011. (Id. ¶ 21.) Due to Lyon's ADHD, he continued to struggle academically, and repeated his junior year in 2011-2012 at Gordon Tech College Prep. (Id. ¶ 22.) Gordon Tech has provided various modifications and accommodations to help Lyon's perform with ADHD, including additional time for exams and being assigned to the school's special education counselor. (Id. ¶ 23.) Lyon joined Gordon Tech's wrestling team during the 2011-2012 wrestling season. (Id. ¶ 24.) Participating in wrestling at Gordon Tech improved Lyon's self-esteem and provided him with a renewed commitment to his education. (Id.) This is demonstrated by Lyon's improved grades, his ACT test score of 28, and his assertion that he hopes to attend a four-year college upon his graduation from Gordon Tech.(Id.)
Lyon participated in high school wrestling during his freshman, sophomore, and part of his first junior year in California. (Id. ¶ 26.) Lyon also wrestled during his second junior year of high school, in 2011-2012, at Gordon Tech. (Id.) By the IHSA's rules, this second junior year is considered his fourth year of participation in the sport, and counts as his seventh and eighth semesters of eligibility. (Id.)
The IHSA rules provide that "after they enroll in the ninth grade, students shall be eligible for no more than eight (8) semesters. They shall not be eligible for more than the number of semesters for which their school is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education." IHSA Rule 3.051. Additionally, the IHSA provides that "After they enroll in the ninth grade, they shall not be eligible for more than four (4) school years of competition in any sport." IHSA Rule 3.053. The purpose of the IHSA is "to provide leadership for the development, supervision and promotion of interscholastic competition and other activities in which its member schools engage. Participation in such interscholastic activities offers eligible students experiences in an educational setting which may provide enrichment to the educational experience." IHSA Rule 1.120. Because of the IHSA's participation limitations, the IHSA determined that Lyon is no longer eligible to participate in the high school sport of wrestling, as he cannot be eligible to wrestle for more than eight semesters or more than four years. (Compl. ¶ 27.)
In November 2012, Lyon requested a waiver from the IHSA Executive Director to permit him to wrestle, despite his ineligibility under the IHSA Rules. This request was denied, as was Lyon's request for the IHSA Executive Director to reconsider his decision. (Id. ¶ 27.) Lyon appealed that decision to the IHSA Board of Directors; after a hearing on January 7, 2013, the IHSA Board of Directors denied Lyon's appeal and his request for a waiver from the eight-semester and four-year eligibility requirements. (Id. ¶ 29.)
Following the final rejection from the IHSA, Lyon filed suit in the
Northern District of Illinois. Lyon alleges the IHSA's refusal to
allow him to participate in an additional semester of wrestling
violates the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a),*fn1
and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12132
moves for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction,
arguing that the IHSA's failure to accommodate him will result in his
missing the remaining wrestling meets of the season, including meets
scheduled to occur on January 10, 11, 12, 15, and 16 of this year.
(Compl. ¶ 34.) The IHSA's bar of Lyon's participation in high school
wrestling might also prevent him from participating in a tournament
scheduled for January 19, 2013, and the State Tournament scheduled to
commence on February 2, 2013. (Id.)
To obtain temporary injunctive relief, a movant must demonstrate "a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, no adequate remedy at law, and irreparable harm absent the injunction." Planned Parenthood of Indiana, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Dept. of Health, 699 F.3d 962, 972 (7th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted) (Planned Parenthood). If the movant can meet the burden of these three requirements, a court is then obligated to weigh the balance of harm to the parties if the injunction is granted or denied. Id. A court must also consider the impact such an injunction would have on the public interest. Id. "The more likely it is that [the moving party] will win its case on the merits, the less the balance of harms need weigh in its favor." Id. (quoting Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S., Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1100 (7th Cir. 2008) (Girl Scouts)).
Each of the requirements of temporary injunctive relief must be considered in turn, to determine if Lyon is entitled to injunctive relief. Provided Lyon meets these three requirements, the potential harm to parties is weighed, as is the impact on the public interest. Planned Parenthood, 699 F.3d at 972. In support of his arguments, Lyon relies on the Seventh Circuit's ruling in the case of Washington v. Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc., 181 F.3d 840 (7th Cir. 1999) (Washington). As the facts and application of law in that case are analogous to Lyon's circumstances, a review of the Washington opinion is useful. In Washington, the plaintiff, Eric Washington, was a learning-disabled high school student in Lafayette, Indiana. Washington, 181 F.3d at 842. In the spring semester of the 1994-1995 academic school year, Washington was socially promoted to the ninth grade of Lafayette Jefferson High School, where he continued to flounder academically. Id. Early in the 1996-1997 academic year, Washington dropped out of high school. Id. Washington played in a basketball tournament in the summer of 1997, sponsored by another high school, Central Catholic High School. Id. Washington decided to attend Central Catholic and play basketball there; in 1998, Washington was officially tested and deemed to be learning disabled. Id.
Much like the IHSA, Indiana has a governing body for high school athletics, the Indiana High School Athletic Association ("IHSAA"). The IHSAA has a rule limiting "a student's athletic eligibility to the first eight semesters following the student's commencement of the ninth grade ('the eight-semester rule')". Id. This rule seeks to discourage the practice of "redshirting*fn2 ," protect athletes' ...