Do public school students have a right to play sports?
The mother of a Maumelle High School student sued the school, district and state after her son was dropped from the basketball team.
Teresa Bloodman filed the suit in October, and after months of hearings, motions and rulings, a trail date still hasn't been set.
In her lawsuit, Bloodman says her son (a freshman) made the team after two tryouts last August. After three months of practice, the coaches held a third tryout for football players transitioning to basketball.
says nine of the basketball team's 11 players were replaced,
including her son.
The suit states:
"...the deprivation of the right to a full and complete education which includes competition in sports and consequently athletic scholarships impairs *John Doe of a property right guaranteed under both the U.S. and State Constitutions."
Bloodman contends holding a third tryout violated her son's equal protection right, because it's not the same method used by girl's teams when they pick their squads.
She also says coaches Michael Shook and Grover Garrison are not certified or qualified to coach, and therefore not competent to decide who makes the team.
Finally, she contends her son wasn't given the opportunity to appeal his dismissal from the team, a due process violation.
But Jay Bequette, attorney for the Pulaski County Special School District, says the Eighth Circuit has never recognized a student's due process right to participate in extra-curricular activities.
"The simple issue here is whether or not a student has a right to participate in extra-curricular activities; be it band, choir or whatever," Bequette said.
In the district's reponse to the lawsuit, Bequette quotes a prior Eighth Circuit ruling, which says, "There is no clearly established right of parents to have their children compete in interscholastic athletics."
Moreover, Bequette says Bloodman's complaint that Maumelle's coaches are not qualified is a matter for the Arkansas Department of Education, not the district. And Bloodman's claim the school violated the equal rights amendment doesn't apply, because her son is male.
*Bloodman's son is not identified in the suit because he is a minor