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Parents consider suing Phoenix HS after daughter with down syndrome cut from basketball team

PHOENIX (KPNX) - A girl with down syndrome was cut from Barry Goldwater High School's basketball team. 

Her parents say they are considering filing a lawsuit over it, arguing she wasn’t treated fairly.

Presley Shine played for the basketball team her freshman year. She had a great experience.

“I like my three pointers,” Presley said. “I love my parents to come and support me.”

Going into her sophomore year though, her parents knew things might be different. There was a new coach and a three-day try out. 

Fast forward to late fall 2019 – Presley’s parents were told their daughter would be cut. The team’s coach allegedly delivered the news after the first day of tryouts.

“She should have been given a chance to participate in all three days of the tryouts and prove whether she could make it from a talent standpoint or not,” Presley’s dad, Kevin Shine, said. 

“If she were cut from the team because there was greater talent, certainly understandable.”

Presley Shine

Presley’s parents say the potential lawsuit is about ensuring equal opportunity for special needs kids, not equal results. They are also frustrated over the coach’s tact, or alleged lack thereof.

“To see your child stand there and start crying in front of mentors, and hear things said about her, and then finding out that she wasn’t going to get to do the tryouts, that it wasn’t fair, it just really, is kind of, kind of breaks your heart,” said Joanna Shine, Presley’s mom said.  

Presley was offered to remain a part of the team as a manger or consider being a member of a special needs team. She declined and transferred schools. She now plays basketball for Caurus Academy in Anthem.

“It’s amazing,” Presley said.

The school district that oversees Barry Goldwater High School said in a statement it takes allegations of discrimination very seriously but cannot comment on student-specific matters because of privacy laws.

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