Sports

Disabled Student Gets Booted From Baseball Team, Sues School District to Get Back On

| by Alex Groberman

A disabled student getting barred from Ayala High School's baseball program may inadvertently wind up setting a very dangerous precedent.

David Barker has been playing baseball since he was nine years old, per court documents obtained by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. As would be the case with any longtime baseball player, once he entered high school, the youngster sought out a position with the school’s team.

Barker eventually got an opportunity to participate in tryouts for Ayala High School's junior varsity baseball team after his freshman year. So far, so good. Unfortunately, in December 2010 he was notified by coaches that he could not be a part of said team.

No biggie. Kids try and fail to make sports teams all the time. That’s what the tryouts process was established for in the first place – to weed out the kids that don't deserve to participate on a given squad. All is good, right?

Wrong.

On top of being an avid baseball fan, Barker is also deaf and has cerebral palsy and controlled seizure disorder. Now, predictably, the youngster and his attorney Jason Ryan Thompson are alleging that the team -- and by extension the Chino Valley Unified School District -- violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Long story short: the student in question is now suing to get on the team.

Before rushing to judgment, it’s worth noting that the situation isn’t as black and white as it initially appears to be. Even though the powers that be running the junior varsity squad may have been totally justified in their decision reject Barker, the youngster did have other high school baseball experience. As a freshman, he played with Ayala's freshman baseball team.

A reasonable person might wonder why Barker’s disability would hinder his time with the junior varsity team when it didn’t harm him in any way while he played with the freshman team. Of course, an equally reasonable person may then respond to that question with the obvious answer: because his disability was never an issue in either case. Like many other similar instances, Barker may have simply been good enough for freshman ball, but not good enough for junior varsity ball. The disability element may not have come into the equation at any point.

Per the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin a hearing will be held on Feb. 29 to sort this whole matter out.

What do you think: based on what we know now, does it seem like the boy’s disability played a role in his dismissal from the junior varsity team? And let’s take it one step further – if his disability did play a role, should anyone deemed not good enough for a team -- for any reason -- be able to sue their way on?

(Kudos to Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for their great reporting on this story)

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