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Judge denies parent’s request to put son on JV soccer team

October 3, 2018 / CoachingSoccer
A federal judge has denied a Missouri parent’s request to place her son on the high school junior varsity soccer team after he was cut from the varsity squad.

U.S. District Judge John Ross issued his ruling Monday, concluding that it was too late in the season to intervene and place the 16-year-old boy on the Ladue Horton Watkins High School junior varsity soccer team. The lawyer for the athlete, who also is the boy’s stepfather, says his firm racked up nearly $100,000 in fees since taking on the case in August.

The parents intervened after the boy cut from the varsity soccer team this summer, a decision they didn’t oppose. However, they felt the junior Ladue Horton Watkins student deserved to be placed on the junior varsity team. The program has a rule that only freshmen and sophomores can play junior varsity, so he wasn’t allowed to play.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the parents first went to district administrators and the superintendent to oppose the ruling, but all sided with the coach. They then went to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which said it could not intervene. That led them to federal court.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The family hired a private coach for the boy, he joined a St. Louis club team, and he improved, his stepfather said. He was one of the leading scorers on junior varsity last year. The stepfather said he is going to file court papers under seal naming other players who made varsity “with way worse stats” than the boy who was cut.

The stepfather said the coach’s decision has left the boy humiliated.

“Everyone is under the impression that he is a poor player, and we’re a bunch of crybabies,” the stepfather said. “But no. He had a successful season last year, and from the statistics, it appears he should have made varsity. This suit is about Ladue refusing to follow the law with respect to age discrimination.”

The suit also alleges that the head soccer coach favored students who attended his summer soccer camps and paid him a fee — something the suit alleges is a “pay-to-play” scheme.

The judge determined the practice time needed to get ready to play would not be sufficient. He also ruled the court should not undermine the school district’s policy of playing underclassmen.

Ross wrote in his ruling: “The Court finds that involving itself in Doe’s case would be contrary to the public interest” and “involving a federal court in a soccer program’s coaching decisions as to an individual student-athlete will rarely advance either interest.”

Read the full story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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