Mom claims discrimination over son with autism
Mom files discrimination suit after son was cut from JV soccer team
- An 11th-grade student didn't make his high school's varsity soccer team and was cut from the junior varsity team.
- Now, his mom has filed a federal discrimination suit on his behalf.
- But the school stands by its decision.
- The case was expected to reach court on Monday.
The mother of a high school student who did not make his high school's varsity soccer team and was cut from the junior varsity team has filed a federal discrimination suit against a Missouri high school.
The mother, referred to as Jane Doe in the suit, said her son, referred to as John Doe, will face "irreparable harm" if he cannot play on the Ladue Horton Watkins High School soccer team this season.
The 11th-grade student's mother claimed that it's age and sex discrimination that her son can't play soccer this season, Fox 2 Now reported. According to the outlet, the mother claimed the school district said juniors aren't allowed to play on the JV team again if they don't make varsity, in order to give younger students a chance to hone their skills on the JV team.
But Susan Downing, the director of communications for the high school, told INSIDER that no such official policy exists.
"What the practice generally is for kids who do not make the varsity team is that they're evaluated in terms of their chances, opportunities to play at the JV level," Downing said. "And a lot of times, if we have a number of kids who are freshmen and sophomores at the skill level that's the same as or greater than a junior, they'll fill the JV team with those students because they have more years of eligibility, training, and development ahead of them."
Downing said the school doesn't see this as age or gender discrimination because the same practice applies to girls' teams, and many juniors were cut from varsity and JV soccer teams. Moreover, John Doe will have the opportunity to try out for the soccer team again in the future if he chooses, Downing said.
In an email to Jane Doe, the school's soccer coach, Dave Aronberg, provided more context on his decision regarding John Doe, per the Riverfront Times.
"We essentially had 40 kids trying to make 24 spots on the varsity team," Aronberg wrote to the boy's mother. "[Your son] was right on the bubble of making the team this year and has some impressive attributes including his attacking mentality and straight-line speed. However, there were a few holes in his game including technical ability and game decision making that put him behind a number of kids. In the end, there were just too many kids who had a little better soccer skill and soccer IQ for him to make the [varsity] team."
First, John Doe's mother and stepfather filed a formal complaint with the school, according to the Riverfront Times. But, eventually, they took things to court.
Now, his mother is asking for both a temporary restraining order and a permanent restraining order against the school, and for the school to put her son on the team.
But Downing said this kind of coaching decision is common in high school sports.
"This is not an unusual thing for not only our school district but also any school district to do," Downing said. "Coaches use discretion in building their teams across the land."
Downing also told INSIDER she's concerned about the implications of the outcome of this situation.
"I think it could set up a fairly slippery slope in terms of how teams can be built and what parents are then able to do if they're not pleased with the decision," she said. "I don't think every parent would go out and file a lawsuit — but they certainly could."
A judge is expected to make a decision in the case on Monday.
Video: Fishers mother files lawsuit against school and coach over 2016 discrimination allegation
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