Mich. prep tennis player sues school over alleged bullying

June 8, 2015 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingTennis
A Michigan high school tennis player is suing her school, coach and athletic director, alleging that she was bullied by teammates and each of them did nothing about it.

tennisCarly Pratt, who attends Portage Central High School, claims she was the subject of rumors that led school officials to search her belongings for drugs and alcohol and subject her to a breathalyzer before a match. Her attorney said they turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, and they now stand accused of discrimination and violating Pratt’s constitutional and civil rights.

Pratt ended up relinquishing her captain status on the team, and she was kicked off the program one week before the state tennis finals, according to MLive.com. A judge later granted her request that she be reinstated.

From the article:

Pratt’s attorney, Matthew DePerno, said that in addition to the lawsuit filed in circuit court, he is considering also filing a claim in federal court alleging that the school district’s treatment of Carly violated her constitutional rights, as well as Title 9, the federal gender-equity law for education.

The lawsuit says Pratt’s problems with teammates began early in this year’s tennis season when they began spreading rumors that she was using alcohol and marijuana at school and practice.

The lawsuit also alleges that “cliques” formed within the team “among certain players and their parents,” which led to Pratt being ostracized from activities at practice “such that other players would not practice with Carly or hit balls with her.”

“The rumors that were spread against her caused other teammates to stay away from Carly and they refused to speak with her at practice or hit balls with her,” the lawsuit says. “Carly was typically left to her own practice methods and drill at practices, such as hitting the ball with teammates with much lower skill levels than her because the better players would not practice with her.”

Carly brought the incidents to the attention of coach Peter Militzer and athletic director Joe Wallace at the start of the tennis season but was ignored, according to the lawsuit. That prompted Carly and her mother to go to Alburtus who “stated that he had assessed the situation and decided it was not a ‘big enough concern’ to discuss the issue with Plaintiff or Carly.”

The allegations suggest the coach and athletic administrator have no control over the program. The lawsuit describes several instances of harassment, including one incident where a parent of one of Pratt’s teammates hit Pratt on the head for saying “good shot” to a player on the other team (who happened to be a childhood friend of Pratt’s). The coach, the lawsuit alleges, also ignored that incident.

Click here to read the complete story at MLive.com.

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