A 7th grade New Jersey student has been expelled after her family sued the school because she wasn’t allowed to play on the boy’s basketball team.
According to NJ.com, Sydney Phillips, 12, was a student at St. Theresa’s School in Kenilworth, New Jersey, before being expelled earlier this week. The ordeal with her school started last year when they announced that they were pulling the girl’s basketball program. Phillips was reportedly the star player the previous year and was upset that she wasn’t going to have the chance to play basketball in the years to come. Her family thought they had the perfect solution- let her play on the boy’s basketball team– but the school refused.
— People Magazine (@people) February 4, 2017
“When we heard that there was no varsity team, which covers 7th and 8th grade, my wife simply said, ‘Let’s just let her play with the 7th and 8th grade boys. Let’s move her over,'” Scott Phillips, Sydney’s father, told People magazine.
When Scott and his wife Theresa approached the athletic director at St. Theresa’s, they were immediately met with resistance. The answer was a quick no, without so much as a discussion.
“Instead of saying, ‘Let’s talk about it,’ or ‘Let’s look into it,’ it was a resounding ‘No’ from the athletic director,” Phillips said. “It was a simple request: just move a girl over to the boys’ league. It’s a no tryout league. There was nothing about if she can keep up with the boys. And as it happens, Sydney [my older daughter] is a very, very good athlete, and her moving to the boys’ team would only help them.”
— Women in the World (@WomenintheWorld) February 3, 2017
After the failed conversation with the athletic director, Scott and Theresa went to the Newark Archdiocese, who runs the school, to give it another try. Again, they were told that Sydney would not be allowed to play on the boy’s basketball team.
“We just want Sydney to be able to play basketball at St. Teresa’s,” Scott said. “She plays for a very good travel team and another church for our hometown. It’s not just that she wanted to play basketball — she wanted to play it for her school. She’s gone to that school since pre-K, so it’s the only school she’s ever known.”
“Sydney can’t understand what the big deal is,” he continued. “She’s not taking anybody’s spot, she’s not competing with anybody. The only people who are going to get hurt are some boys’ egos.”
Realizing that there was nothing they could do, Scott and Theresa decided to take legal action, but a superior court judge sided with the school in January. They are currently appealing the decision. On Wednesday, Scott received a forwarded email from the Archdiocese of Newark’s lawyer, which stated that neither Sydney, nor her little sister Kaitlyn “should be coming to St. Theresa’s School tomorrow morning or any day thereafter.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 2, 2017
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, explained that the school has a policy that states if a parent takes legal action against the school, the student will face expulsion. Goodness said Scott and Theresa signed a form acknowledging the policy in August.
“If a parent implicates St. Theresa School in a legal matter, or names St. Theresa School as a defendant in a civil matter, the parent/guardian will be requested to remove their children immediately from the school,” the school’s handbook reads.
“They did nothing wrong,” Scott said of his daughters. “And, this is the church? This is the archdiocese? They should be ashamed of themselves.”
On Friday, Scott filed a motion for an emergency hearing, and the judge ruled that the girls could go back to school on Monday.
Do you think Sydney should have been allowed to play on the boy’s basketball team? Leave your comments below.
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