Sunday, September 24, 2023
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Swim Team Eligibility Isn’t Constitutional Right

(CN) - A fifth-year high-school student was not deprived of her civil rights when he was denied a spot on the swim team, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) declared Elizabeth Mancuso ineligible to swim at Andover High School because of the "fifth-year student rule."

Mancuso had repeated the ninth grade, swimming on the high school team in her second freshman year. However, the MIAA rules state that her four years of eligibility began with her first freshman year.

Mancuso sued for the deprivation of her property rights without due process. The jury awarded her $10,000, but the judge overruled the verdict, stating that Mancuso had "no constitutionally protected interest in the right to participate on the swim team."

Justice Cowan agreed with the trial judge.

"The right to a public education," Cowan wrote, "is not synonymous with the right to participate in extracurricular activities. Although such activities may serve as a beneficial supplement to required physical education, they are by nature separate from that curriculum."

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