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Father sues his son's high school for $40million

philadelphia school track team bullying and harassment unexcused absences freedom of speech

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#1 Hum

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 14:45

There's a point Ervin Mears Jr. wants people to understand, and it's the reason he filed a federal lawsuit when his son was ousted from the high school track team:

"Children have rights," Mears, 68, said, "just like any adult."

In this case, he said, it's the right to run.

On May 6, Mawusimensah Mears, a sophomore at Sterling Regional High School in Camden County, was kicked off the team, the suit says.

Eleven days later, his father sued in Camden, naming the coach, athletic director, principal, superintendent, and school board.

The suit says his son was subjected to bullying and harassment. It seeks $40 million plus 2012 and 2013 varsity letters and championship jackets.

Sterling's interim superintendent, Paul Spaventa, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation and student privacy.

"Interfering?" Mears asked, his voice rising in response to a question about whether filing a lawsuit was interfering with the school's prerogatives. "That's my son. I better interfere. I better make sure he gets every opportunity."

Is it rare for parents to sue over high school sports? Yes, according to local school and athletic officials, who say they have been threatened with suits but never actually sued.

Is it rare for parents to push hard to get their children off the bench? Not at all.

"Sports is a lightning rod," said athletic director Steve Iles at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville. "If you look at society and our culture, sports is a very big part of it.

"It's an emotional issue anytime you are dealing with parents, children, and their sports," he said.

Mears, a disabled veteran from Lawnside, filed the suit on his own, without a lawyer's help.

He ran track in high school and the military and said his son "comes from a family of track winners." The boy was the "undefeated champ" in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter runs as an eighth grader at a Catholic school in 2010, the suit says.

That promise, his father said, should have translated into a key spot on the team when, as a ninth grader, Mawusimensah entered Sterling Regional High School in Somerdale. Sterling draws about 950 students from Magnolia, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Stratford, Laurel Springs, and other towns.

But things started to sour in his son's freshman year, Mears said, when he and his son's track coach disagreed over which races his son should run.

It's unfair, Mears said, that his son wasn't allowed to compete, even though he may have been faster than some seniors who raced. "If he doesn't qualify, then the clock will say he's not fast enough," said Mears, who worries his son may be losing out on the possibility of a college athletic scholarship.

Unexcused absences from practice were the official reason Mears said he was given for his son's dismissal. That's an excuse, Mears said. A family death and injured leg kept his son away.

"Participation in extracurricular activities is a right," Mears said.

Not allowing his son to participate constitutes bullying, harassment, and an "abusive school environment" in which the sophomore's rights to due process and freedom of speech were impeded, the suit says.

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#2 M_Lyons10

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 14:52

Wow. Just wow... I see today is going to feature a lot of truly embarrassing news stories... This is just outrageous and kind of indicative of a big problem in this country presently. Kids are raised that they can do no wrong and that there are no repercussions to their actions... They're raised in a bubble and when they get out of school they are woefully illprepared for life. Everything "isn't fair"...

The number of mommies and daddies that call my work for their children is incredible.

#3 spacer

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 14:56

I'm not really sure where the $40 million amount came from or where this guy thinks his lawsuit has a chance.

It's the coach's prerogative whether a team member races or not. Giving races to seniors, even though this kid might be faster, isn't anything new. That's the way it's always been. ("seniority"?) Sounds like this kid and his father are just upset. If the kid and the coach disagreed to the point that it was becoming detrimental to the entire team, or the kid started skipping practice, then of course he should be kicked off the team.

At most, it sounds like this coach is an idiot for not running his best players instead of running the seniors just because they're seniors. That's not ground for a lawsuit. That's just the coach being a dick.

The only way I could see this lawsuit having legs is if the coach deliberately shunned the kid due to some type of prejudice, which doesn't seem likely given the facts in the story.

#4 Growled

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:05

I think the lawsuit is rather silly too but schools are way over the top these days. It's gonna take a few of these silly lawsuits to get them back into reality.

#5 jerzdawg

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:28

Heard this story on the radio, kid was cut because he was missing practice. No lawsuit here. Should get thrown out instantly.

Edit - and this quote says it all "Participation in extracurricular activities is a right," Mears said., couldnt be farther from the truth in High School, academic and behavior issues can get you kicked off of a team in a heartbeat.

#6 chrisj1968

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:34

well reading a news story isn't really a way to render a well educated decision on this.

I'll be interested to see if the OP will post the end result of this case.

#7 Geoffrey B.

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:43

If it is anything like when I was in school Extra curricular activities are based solely on your performance in both the activity and school work. If you are not showing up then they will cut you do to performance, also it is a privilege not a right to participate. Or in the case of my school, if you are willing to Pay they are willing to let you play. as the only sport at my high school that was "free" to play was football.

#8 +techbeck

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:43

40mil? Really? Sounds like the kids fault and all lawsuits like this do is hurt the other kids and the community. If he didnt attend practice, no matter how good he may be, he is subject to the same discipline as the rest of the kids..

Disabled vet is right...mentally disabled.

#9 Zlain

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 15:47

School admin should sue back for wasting their time.

#10 Co_Co

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 16:03

the man should be charged to wasting the courts time. a fine in the thousands

#11 OP Hum

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 16:36

Another case of 'I can sue because of my race, and cash in'.

#12 moloko

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 17:22

injured leg is not a reason to miss practice. You show up but the coach sits you out. You don't even miss the games. That is a bogus excuse. Death in the family...come on, you can still do practice. Did he not go to school on those days too??

#13 wv@gt

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 17:29

The father is only hearing the kids side of the story, he missed practice though. The kid didn't loose his right to run, he can still legally run, he just wasn't cut out for the team. As for the $40 millon, where do you pull that number from, is this some kind of desperate plea for money. I'm sorry, but one suing for this just makes you look like a cry baby, and the $40 million even more desperate. Talk to the coaches, maybe have the kid practice a little more and then try again next year. I ran track for 3 years is high school, the first year didn't work out for me, so I trained and made the team the following year

edit: Suing is not the way to going about your kid getting recognized on the track team, does the father not realize his kid will probably be bullied if he wins the case

#14 Davo

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 22:25

Hmmm so the father used to be a track star and now is disabled, has a family history of track stars, and now is willing to sue for $40 million because his son can't run track? Sounds like he's missing the forest for the trees. He's doing this merely to live vicariously and to fulfill some stupid tradition.

If anything, it sounds like he hampered his kid's chances if he's this overbearing. Then again there's always the fact that the kid broke a leg. Can't really run track with a leg injury.

#15 xendrome

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 22:30

"Children have rights," Mears, 68, said, "just like any adult."



Too bad athletic sports isn't a protected class, or he might have a law suit. But since it isn't, this will be thrown at pretty quickly.