ASD: We spoke with swim official before taking action

Anchorage School District superintendent Deena Bishop speaks at a news conference about the swimsuit controversy on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The swim official at the center of a controversial disqualification made Sept. 6 over a high school athlete's swimsuit has said she's not getting fair treatment.

One day after Jill Blackstone came forward to say she'd only enforced the rules, and that neither the school district nor activities officials had spoken with her prior to overturning her call, the Anchorage School District, which wants the official decertified, is holding firm.

Certification of officials is handled through the Alaska School Activities Association. The Anchorage School District formally asked ASAA to decertify Blackstone, citing a belief that the official had targeted Willis and her sister.

"During the last six days, neither ASAA nor ASD has asked for an explanation from me about the events that led to the disqualification or asked me if I had a defense to the accusations that have been leveled at me," Blackstone said in a prepared statement released Thursday.

Friday afternoon, one week after the Sept. 6 disqualification of high school swimmer Breckynn Willis, the school district offered this in response to Blackstone's statement:

"We received the written statement that the official provided ASAA regarding her decision and actions in the Sept 6 meet. Additionally, the official reached out to ASD Tuesday afternoon to speak with an administrator. One of our administrators called her back and spoke with her about her actions at the meet. Our administrator took a thorough statement over the phone and read it back to her to ensure accuracy. We feel both of these statements are sufficient to represent the official’s side of the story. Both statements were considered in ASD’s decision to appeal to ASAA.."

Tuesday afternoon, Billy Strickland, Executive Director for ASAA, told KTUU that the association had received a statement about the incident from Blackstone. He declined to provide a copy of the statement to KTUU.

Here is Blackstone's comment in its entirety:

"Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) and the Anchorage School District (ASD) adopted and asked swim officials to enforce the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) rules. As meet referee, I observed an athlete who did not comply with these rules, which resulted in the required disqualification. Despite claims to the contrary by ASAA and ASD, I followed the specified protocol described in the governing NFHS rules to process the disqualification. The School District has unfairly labeled me as “heavy-handed” and “biased.” During the last six days, neither ASAA nor ASD has asked for an explanation from me about the events that led to the disqualification or asked me if I had a defense to the accusations that have been leveled at me.

"ASD and ASAA should review rules prior to asking officials to uphold them, and impartially hear all sides when disputes arise. Due process is important for all of us."

Friday night, Dimond holds its first meet since last week's incident. Willis' mother, Meagan Kowatch, told KTUU "the girls' races will speak for themselves."

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