Today and tomorrow the Daily Dawg will tell you about two cases that involve student participation in extracurricular activities. Today we’ll tackle the simple, straightforward case. Tomorrow we will muddy the water.
Today’s case arose when a student in New Deal ISD moved from mom’s house in New Deal to dad’s in Lubbock-Cooper. To make this story easier to understand, let’s call this student The Player.
The Player had attended school in New Deal for several years, including some after he moved to Cooper. He also played football for New Deal and is described in the lawsuit as a “talented football player and track athlete.” However, in January, 2018, the student enrolled in Cooper.
According to the lawsuit, the New Deal football coach tried to persuade The Player to return to New Deal. In fact, he allegedly offered to allow another student, The Player’s good friend, to transfer into New Deal with him. However, The Player’s father nixed the idea and The Player stayed at Cooper. The suit tells us that the coach was not happy about the loss of his talented player and so he filed a complaint with the UIL, alleging that this move to Cooper was done for athletic purposes. The UIL agreed with that, and barred The Player from competition for a year.
The father then sued the UIL and New Deal, alleging that this was all an improper effort to punish a student. The dad argued that the move to Cooper was designed to get The Player, who was also a very good student, into a bigger district where more advanced classes would be available. On top of that, Cooper was closer. So the dad argued that athletics was certainly not the primary consideration.
The UIL usually wins cases like this, and it won this one. The father made three arguments, all of which fell short. First, the dad argued that The Player was denied the “equal protection” of the laws. To prevail on that theory, the dad had to produce evidence of another student who was in a similar situation but was treated differently. The court held that the father had not found a “similarly situated” student to compare The Player with. So this claim failed.
The second theory was a denial of due process. The father complained about the UIL process. He was not allowed to cross examine witnesses. The UIL did not conduct an “evidentiary hearing.” But the court had little trouble dismissing that argument as it has done numerous times before. The problem here for the dad is that “process” is not “due” unless a property right is implicated. A student has a property right to attend school, but not a “right” to participate in UIL activities. Key Quote:
The court concludes that UIL did not violate [The Player’s] right to due process, because [his] interest in participating in interscholastic sports is not protected by the Due Process Clause.
The third argument was that The Player had been denied his right to a public education. Nope. The court pointed out that The Player was making straight A’s at Cooper, and that the father had even acknowledged that he “thrives” at Cooper. So there was no loss of the right to a good education.
Case dismissed. UIL transfer rule upheld once again. But tune in tomorrow when we will toss a bit of religion into the mix. Today’s case is Martinez v. UIL, decided by the federal court for the Western District of Texas on January 7, 2019. We found it at 2019 WL 122058.
DAWG BONE: WHEN PROCESS IS NOT DUE YOU CAN’T CLAIM A DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS.
Tomorrow: a “promesa” to God violates the dress code. What now?