WEST ALLIS, Wis. - A foreign exchange student in West Allis has been told she can't compete in varsity sports, not because of her skills – but because of organization guidelines.
More than 4,000 miles from her family, 18-year-old Ana Glineur is right at home. The exchange student from Belgium attends Nathan Hale High School and made the varsity gymnastics team.
"She placed first all-around, and then she placed in all four events," said Amanda King, Glineur's host mom.
After three meets, the athletic director said Glineur cannot compete on varsity. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) said she violated the foreign exchange student guidelines, but Serafina Scholl with Asse International, Glineur's exchange program, disagrees.
"(She) was told three weeks into her program that she could not participate on varsity because she is a ‘direct placement,’" Scholl said.
Scholl said King, knew Glineur's sister 16 years ago, but only family relatives are defined as direct placement. Scholl also said the athletic director filed paperwork late.
"He wrote a couple emails, but there was no official appeal to send her through the official appeal process," said Scholl. "Now we have to backtrack to get her in."
In an email to FOX6 News, the WIAA said any student wanting to appeal rulings has to go through the school. The WIAA said its decision is typically final. The school's athletic director said they wanted a different outcome, but respects the WIAA's ruling.
"I was disappointed. Really disappointed," said Glineur.
For Ana's teammates, the fight is not over. They started an online petition that already has more than 2,600 signatures.
"It’s just crazy. I can’t imagine that," Glineur said
King said legal counsel sent a letter and coumentation to the WIAA, but they haven't heard back.
"I think every student deserves a fair chance, whether you are a Wisconsinite, a foreign exchange student – I don’t think that matters," Glineur said.
Statement from WIAA on violation of Section 4 – Foreign Exchange Students:
"For students who are "directly placed" through an exchange program, students who are placed through an exchange program not affiliated with CSIET, or students who will not be in attendance for at least one complete semester from start to finish, eligibility will be limited to nonvarsity competition."
Statement from Nathan Hale Athletic Director Greg Lucas:
"We appreciate the support that our foreign exchange student has received from the gymnastic team and others. As a school and district we also support her. While we were hoping for a different outcome from the WIAA regarding her eligibility, we understand that these eligibility rules are membership driven for the good of all schools in the WIAA"
FOX6 News asked Lucas about the late paperwork Scholl talked about and if a formal appeal was filed but did not immediately hear back.