The break of day July 1 was a new one for Arizona student-athletes who transfer from one school to another. At least that’s the intent of the 520 form, which now will be required of every student-athlete who wishes to transfer to another school.
The 520 form is a product of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Legislative Council’s meeting in March. The 5A Conference was particularly concerned by the number of recent transfers, particularly for athletic reasons. Thus, legislation initiating some action on transfers was passed. The rationale of the 520 form is an attempt to tighten transfer procedures and help track students (and the sports they’ve played) who move from one school to the next.
“The intent of this is to help schools have a history of a student transferring,” said AIA executive director Dr. Harold Slemmer. “There is a page that tracks a student and his athletic activity back to seventh grade. There is also a section that asks for club participation. That helps identify kids who may be following a club coach to a school.”
Can the form and the extra scrutiny it provides cut down on questionable and bogus transfers? That’s the hope.
“I’ve been burned twice by parents claiming they’ve moved and it ended up that something along the way fell through,” said Chandler High athletic director Dave Shapiro. “If anything (the 520 form) will give me more leverage.”
The portion of the form Shapiro points to most is the one requiring parents who move their child to have at least four of the seven domicile proofs listed on the form. Those are or can be: current driver’s license, voter registration card, vehicle registration, utility bill, bank statement, phone bill or cable bill.
“The form puts more pressure on parents. The burden is theirs,” Shapiro said. “These are things they should be doing if they make a move regardless of moving their kids to a different school.”
The AIA’s statement of philosophy/rationale for the transfer rule is five-pronged:
• Promote the educational philosophy that participation in interscholastic athletics is a privilege which should not take a dominant role over academics.
• Recognize the overwhelming administrative difficulty in attempting to determine the motives or reasons for each and every transfer, therefore, adopting a uniform objective standard to be followed by all member schools.
• Help protect opportunities for participation by students who attend school in the attendance zone of their domicile.
• Help protect and promote continuity of school programs.
• Serve as a deterrent to students running from or avoiding an athletic discipline that has been or may be imposed.
Slemmer said some states have instituted a bylaw called a “previous instruction rule” that prohibits a student-athlete following a coach to a high school. Florida has a by-law in effect that keeps student-athletes sidelined a year if they follow a coach to another school.
Phoenix Mountain Pointe athletic director Ian Moses applauds the group of administrators who created the form and the added burden of proof it places on those making a move.
“I’m optimistic, but at the same time saddened that this is what a portion of my job’s become,” Moses said. “It should simply be about kids and interscholastic competition.
“Whatever you put in place, there is always going to be a select few that will do whatever it takes to make a move. It still comes down to the integrity and honesty of the parents and of the receiving school.”
Shapiro said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the effect the form will have.
“We’ve gone through a lot of stages over the years in transfers,” Shapiro said. “In the old days, you couldn’t move. Then we had the 600 form. Then came hardships and hardship appeals.
“As soon as something’s in place, people find a way around it. They search for a loophole. I just get weary of parents shopping their kids.”