By Kevin Deutsch
Monarch High School in Coconut Creek has been reprimanded, fined $16,500, and placed on administrative probation by the Florida High School Athletic Association for allowing a transgender female to play on the school’s female varsity volleyball team, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association.
In a letter written by FHSAA Associate Executive Director for Eligibility and Compliance Justin Harrison and sent Tuesday to Monarch High School Interim Principal Moira Sweeting-Miller, Harrison said the association found the school “permitted a biological male to participate on the girls volleyball team during the 2022-2023 and 2023-24 Girls Volleyball seasons,” in violation of state law.
Harrison’s letter states that the school is being fined $500 per contest for the 33 contests in which they were in violation of state law.
The school was also reprimanded, resulting in an “official letter of censure” that will permanently remain on its FHSAA membership record and placed on probation through Nov. 20, 2024, the letter states.
The school’s current principal and athletic director are required to attend an FHSAA-approved compliance seminar in 2024 and 2025 as part of the punishment and must host FHSAA staff for an eligibility and compliance workshop, Harrison wrote.
The transgender athlete, according to the letter, ” is declared ineligible to represent any member school for a period of one year from the date of discovery.”
According to Harrison, Broward County Public Schools reported the school’s use of the ineligible player to the FHSAA.
“The FHSAA has not yet received any corrective actions from Monarch High School,” the letter states.
The sanctions decision can be appealed, Harrison wrote.
The school’s punishment appeared to mark the first time a U.S. public school has been sanctioned for breaking state laws pertaining to the eligibility of transgender athletes in sports.
According to the letter, the laws and policy the school violated are Florida Bylaw 8.62, which states that “biological males may not participate on a female team in any sport”; Florida Policy 16.11.6, which states that the “use of an ineligible student when self-reported, may subject the school to a monetary penalty of a minimum of $100 per contest and/or other sanctions”; and Florida Statute 1006.205(3)(c), which states that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.”
Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz lauded the FHSAA’s decision in a post on X.
“Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis, Florida passed legislation to protect girls’ sports and we will not tolerate any school that violates this law,” wrote Diaz. “We applaud the swift action taken by the @FHSAA to ensure there are serious consequences for this illegal behavior.”
The school’s principal at the time of the violations, James Cecil, along with several other staff members, were previously assigned to non-school sites pending the outcome of a separate investigation by BCPS.
The other staff members are Assistant Principal Kenneth May, Teacher/Athletic Director Dione Hester, and Information Management Technician Jessica Norton, according to BCPS.
Additionally, Alex Burgess, a temporary athletic coach at the school, “has been advised his services are paused while the investigation is ongoing,” a BCPS spokesperson said last month.
In a press release last month, the district said it would “continue to follow state law and take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation.” Self-Report_-_Monarch_-_Volleyball
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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