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Mooseheart’s executive director said Tuesday the school believes it did not violate any IHSA rules in accepting four Sudanese teenagers as students, “and it has never recruited any student for the purpose of improving its athletic standing in its 100-year history.”
“We believe our organization has a comprehensive and detailed admissions process, in determining both the level of need a child has to be considered for placement at Mooseheart and the likelihood of success for that child within our program,” Mooseheart Executive Director Scott D. Hart said.
“No organization is perfect, however, and we will act upon the IHSA ruling as a learning experience and a chance to better our already high standards.”
The IHSA Board of Directors Monday overturned a decision by its executive director and reinstated the interscholastic athletic eligibility of the four Mooseheart students — including three basketball players — from South Sudan.
“These young men — Mangisto Deng, Makur Puou, Akim Nyang and Wal Khat — entered Mooseheart seeking an education and a chance for a better life, not only for themselves, but for their home communities and country where they plan to return,” Hart said. “The ruling now allows the young men the opportunity to enjoy the same well-rounded high school experience as their classmates and all other students across Illinois.”
The IHSA also imposed three requirements on Mooseheart and its administrators, as well as placing the school on probation from the postseason state basketball tournament until the school complies with all three actions.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from the public, the news media and others in the community who recognize the positive influence that Mooseheart has had, and will continue to have, on children in need,” Hart said.
“We promise to continue fulfilling our mission to nurture, raise and educate children from across our continent and around the world, based solely on a child’s life circumstances and not on any special talents or gifts that he/she may possess.”