In what looks like a very misguided effort, a Camden County New Jersey father sued Sterling Regional High School this month for $40 million after his son was kicked off the school track and field team. The student, sophomore Mawusimensah Mears, was dismissed from the team for excessive absence from practice. Mears also had an ongoing dispute with the coach over which races he would be allowed to run.
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.
“I felt in a way, disrespected,” Mawusimensah, 16, said Friday. “At practice, I work hard and I try to be the best athlete I can be, but at meet time, I didn’t get the respect that I thought I deserved.”
As is the case in most states, New Jersey’s new, tougher bullying laws are in place for a reason – to keep kids safe and foster an environment in which the most effective learning and maturing can take place.
Based on the facts presented in the article, this case is not bullying. The father does not appear to agree with the standards used by the coach to determine who would compete in each event:
“If he doesn’t qualify, then the clock will say he’s not fast enough,” said Mears
It seems pretty clear to me. If the athlete’s times were not fast enough to qualify, and he missed too many practices, then the coach seems well within his rights. Let’s not minimize the plight of real bullying victims but grouping this case in that basket.
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