An Ashby High School senior had his athletic eligibility restored after receiving a preliminary injunction against the Minnesota State High School League.
Hennepin County District Judge Jacqueline Regis ruled Monday in favor of Deklin Goeden's family, which accused the MSHSL of illegal discrimination by reason of a learning disability.
Under the MSHSL's Bylaw 110, student-athletes are allowed 12 consecutive semesters (six consecutive years) of eligibility beginning in seventh grade. Because he repeated seventh grade due to a learning disability, Goeden used up his eligibility and was told he must sit out his senior year. The MSHSL's Eligibility Committee denied the family's appeal.
"This is an important decision," said Goeden family attorney Justin Page, who filed the suit in October. "It's the first of its kind in Minnesota. I think this will make the Minnesota State High School League look at the way it deals with making exceptions. The league has to give these situations the individual analysis the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act requires."
Attorney Kevin Beck, who represented the MSHSL in court, did not immediately return a voicemail message.
Going into the current school year, Goeden had only competed in 11 semesters worth of activities. He competed in six wrestling seasons. As a junior last season, he did not play football and his track and field season was canceled due to the coronavirus.
The Goedens met with the league's eligibility committee on June 1 and again on June 17. At the latter meeting, the committee voted 3-2 against the family's request to play an additional semester.
The Goedens said Deklin's learning disabilities make mathematics rationalization and reading comprehension a challenge. Andrea Goeden, Deklin's mother, said the family elected to have him repeat seventh grade because feedback from the school indicated he was "at a fifth-grade level versus being ready for eighth-grade."
The Goedens were unaware of Bylaw 110 at the time. They were not notified until December 2019 of Deklin's eligibility situation.
Goeden's father, Darren, said the court's ruling, "felt good knowing that we weren't alone. Talking to the high school league, everything was a no. I'm glad someone else is looking out for kids who just want to participate."