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More scrutiny on Achiever Academy

02/11/2014, 10:33pm CST
By David La Vaque, Star Tribune

An e-mail regarding player eligibility raises questions.

The eligibility of as many as six girls’ hockey players for Achiever Academy High School has been called into question amid new details suggesting that in some cases their families live outside of Minnesota.

The players were discussed at a meeting Friday between officials from Achiever, a relatively new online private high school in Vadnais Heights set up to provide intensive hockey training, and the Minnesota State High School League.

On Tuesday the league received an unsigned e-mail listing the names of players and information gleaned from Internet searching, including property records and screenshots of girls’ Twitter accounts. The e-mail, which was provided to the Star Tribune, claimed seven players were ineligible either because their parents lived out of state or their families did not relocate when the players transferred to Achiever. The e-mail indicated that one player recently moved out of state.

League bylaws state “a change of residence is the actual physical relocation by the parents or guardians of a student with the intent to reside indefinitely at a new residence in Minnesota and terminate all occupancy of a previous residence.”

Craig Perry, league associate director who oversees student eligibility, said he received the e-mail but “sent it to our legal counsel” and declined to comment further. The league’s bylaws hold member schools “completely and solely responsible to certify” that students meet all eligibility requirements.

The high school league forwarded the e-mail to Achiever and is awaiting the school’s response.

School officials say the e-mail included some information not discussed with the league Friday but said in a statement that Achiever “exceeded the rules of the league with regard to verifying eligibility” and is not pursuing it further.

“We determined them eligible,” Achiever co-owner Tom Forsythe said in an interview. “We don’t feel we have any obligation to do anything else.”

The revelations came before Achiever, the top-ranked team in Class 1A, Section 4, beat Mahtomedi 6-0 in the section semifinals Tuesday and moved one victory away from advancing to next week’s girls’ hockey state tournament at Xcel Energy Center

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