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Family Appeals Ohio Residence Rule

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Two southern Michigan parents who live apart five days a week so their children can participate in school athletics in Toledo, Ohio, plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Ohio athletic-association bylaw that they say necessitates their separation.

John and Judy Zeiler's home is in Bedford Township, Mich., a mile north of the Ohio border and about six miles from Central Catholic High School in Toledo, where the couple's children are enrolled, according to David Kohler, the couple's lawyer. The closest coeducational Catholic high school in Michigan is in Ann Arbor, some 45 miles from the family's home.

A bylaw adopted by the Ohio State High School Athletic Association in 1979 prevents students whose parents live in another state from participating in athletics in Ohio schools. So since August, Ms. Zeiler and her three high-school-age children have spent weeknights at a relative's home in Toledo to qualify as Ohio residents, thus allowing the children to participate in wrestling and volleyball.

The association bylaw was passed in response to allegations that some Cincinnati schools were recruiting football players and swimmers from Kentucky, Mr. Kohler said. The Zeilers' children were never recruited by Central Catholic in Toledo.

In February 1984, a federal district judge, stating that sports are not an activity protected under the Constitution, rejected the argument posed by the Zeilers and 35 other Michigan families that the bylaw ran afoul of the section of the Constitution requiring states to grant all privileges and immunities granted to state residents equally to residents of other states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision last month.--tm

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