Three girls were kicked off the Mesa Mountain View softball program run by the Mesa Unified School District in Arizona back on March 1.
Their parents claimed they were subjected to religious discrimination; however, the school district said the girls exhibited "conduct detrimental to the team," noted AZCentral.com.
Coach Joe Goodman kicked three players, Sidney and Kinsey Ryan and another player who has chosen to remain anonymous, off the team after a tournament in Tucson, Arizona.
John and Jodi Ryan claim their daughters were booted off the softball team because they are not members of a Mormon church.
However, on March 25, Mesa Unified School District East Area assistant superintendent Holly Williams said in an email to the parents: "I find no evidence to support the claim that Coach Goodman dismissed Sidney and Kinsey from the team because of their religion. In contrast, there is abundant evidence to support the conclusion that Sidney and Kinsey were dismissed because their conduct was detrimental to the team."
According to ThinkProgress.org, the Ryans and the third girl's father have now filed a complaint (the first step to a lawsuit) in court against the school district and Coach Goodman. The parents allege the girls were “penalized for not conducting ‘team prayer’ in accordance with the directive of [Coach] Joseph Goodman."
The complaint also accuses Coach Goodman of acting “for himself and at the behest of certain parents that were part of the [Mormon] Church.”
The complaint alleges the girls were punished for playing “contemporary hip-hop and other popular music" that offended a Mormon teammate.
The parent of the Mormon teammate allegedly monitored social media postings by the girls and reported them back to Coach Goodman.
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For its part, the school district has counter-claimed that Coach Goodman had the right to kick the girls off the team because they endangered “team morale and unity.” The school district also said that the girls' complaint shows their "music and social media activity during a school sponsored event actually disrupted at least one of their teammates, upset some parents and caused conflict among the athletes and with their coach,” reports ThinkProgress.org.
Sources: AZCentral.com, ThinkProgress.org / Image Credit: Tony the Marine