Parents Sue for Son's JV Spot

October 2, 2018

The mother of a 16-year-old boy at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Mo., has sued the school district, challenging its policy of giving preference for JV roster spots to younger players.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the woman's son tried out for varsity, but did not make the team. The family accepted the decision, but said they were upset their son was not named to the junior varsity team, because the school gave preference to freshmen and sophomores, so they can develop their talents.

“There are many schools across the country that have this policy that you either make varsity as a junior or you’re out of the program,” the boy's stepfather said. “And that’s an illegal policy. If someone said ‘Cut all the blacks,’ that would be illegal. And it’s illegal for age, too.”

The boy's stepfather, who is also the lawyer on his case, said that when the boy failed to make any team as a freshman, they “told him to man up and up his game.” They hired a private coach for the boy, and said he later went on to become one of the best scorers on the junior varsity team.

“We’re not saying put him on varsity; we’ve never said that,” the stepfather says. “We just say put him on junior varsity.”

A U.S. District refused the family's request to force the district to include the student in its games until the case could be decided, saying that participation in school sports is a privilege, not a right, and so the student was not suffering legal harm. He noted that using the student's grade level in the decision of whether to let him play was not unconstitutional. Ross added that since the season is half over, the boy was unlikely to be able to participate in enough practices to be eligible to play. The family says it will continue with the suit in hopes of changing the policy for next season.

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