A former Duluth Marshall hockey standout is at odds with the Minnesota State High School League as he tries to finish his prep career at Duluth Denfeld.

Cam McClure enrolled at Denfeld in June after spending three years at Marshall. High school league policy, however, prohibits transfers from competing in varsity athletics at their new school for one year, meaning McClure wouldn’t be eligible to play varsity hockey - or soccer - for the Hunters as a senior.

His family requested an exemption in mid-August, initially citing financial hardship. A loss of funding from one of Marshall’s sponsor families, as well as a relative no longer being able to offer assistance, meant the McClures couldn’t afford the school’s tuition. Their request was denied Sept. 5.

McClure’s father, Jason

McClure, then learned of a high school league policy known as IEP/504, which governs transfer requests made by students with learning disabilities (IEP stands for “individual education plans”). His son was diagnosed in October 2013 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as an anxiety disorder. Cam struggled to keep up with Marshall’s rigorous academic requirements and his grades plunged, says Jason, a school resource officer at Denfeld.

Cam’s biggest issue was Marshall’s 90-minute class periods. He simply couldn’t focus for that long.

“He just said, ‘I need to get out of here. I can’t do another year of the 90-minute classes. I’m really struggling academically and I just want to finish at Denfeld,’ ” Jason recounted.

The McClures live in the Piedmont Heights neighborhood.

The elder McClure and Denfeld athletic director Tom Pearson broached the option of IEP/504 with the high school league, which advised Jason to pursue it. The McClures sent documentation - doctor’s notes, a letter from Cam’s school counselor at Marshall, medication lists - to the MSHSL, which ruled last month that Cam didn’t qualify because he was going from a private school to a public one.

The McClures, who have since retained a lawyer, had a hearing Wednesday at MSHSL headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The judge who heard their case has until Tuesday to decide whether Cam can play varsity hockey for the Hunters this winter. The 18-year-old, who transferred to Marshall before his freshman year, already missed all of the soccer season.

“It’s been very frustrating,” said Cam, who helped the Hilltoppers reach the Class A state hockey tournament in 2012 and 2013. He scored the game-winning goal in the section final both seasons, including in 2013 against Denfeld.

Cam says his grade-point average was 3.75 in his first quarter at Denfeld after falling to 2.0 last year at Marshall. Aside from the absence of 90-minute classes, Cam has benefited from a 504 learning plan, which allows him certain accommodations because of his ADHD - more time to take tests, for example.

“At Marshall, I wasn’t doing as well academically as I’d like to be doing, so I knew I needed to make a change,” he said. “I thought a public school would be a lot more suitable for me because of the shorter class periods.”

Cam is unique in that he transferred from private to public for academic reasons. The reverse is the norm.

That shouldn’t matter, his dad says.

During Wednesday’s hearing, he told the high school league: “I still don’t understand what the difference is between private and public when it comes to a kid with a disability.”

With hockey tryouts starting Monday, Jason says, “We’re running out of time.”

The McClures’ lawyer, Andrea Jepsen of the School Law Center in St. Paul, says state and federal laws leave the high school league no choice but to rule in Cam’s favor.

“Kids who have to transfer from one school to another because of their disabilities cannot be penalized because of that disability-related transfer,” Jepsen wrote in an email.

Because of privacy issues, the MSHSL declined to comment.

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