(AUSTIN, TX) – Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today called on the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools to reverse their decision to not allow the Robert M. Beren Academy boys basketball team to continue to compete in this year’s playoffs.
Beren Academy is in Senator Ellis’ district. Senator Ellis spoke with Mr. Edd Burleson, Director of the Texas Association of Private Parochial Schools after sending the following letter:
March 1, 2012
Mr. Edd Burleson
Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools
601 North Main
P.O. Box 1039
Salado, TX 76571
Dear Mr. Burleson:
I write to express my frustration with the recent controversy surrounding the rescheduling of a playoff basketball game for the Robert M. Beren Academy boys basketball team. As you know, Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in my senatorial district, requested that their game scheduled for this Friday evening be rescheduled so that their players may observe the Sabbath. Fortunately, the courts stepped in and issued a temporary restraining order, allowing Beren Academy students to continue their success on the basketball court.
This is a controversy that never should have taken place. Basic respect for all religious faiths suggests that their request should have been quickly granted by TAPPS. According to press accounts, other schools in the playoffs did not appear to have any problems with the request and had agreed to reschedule. Further, Beren Academy had agreed to pay the costs and had secured an alternate venue. I fail to see what the real obstacle was.
Last year, accommodations were made for a Seventh Day Adventist school in the same situation with a soccer championship. As the TAPPS Director, you had discretion under Section 75 of the TAPPS Bylaws to permit a change in schedule for a variety of reasons, included the open-ended phrase “because of … other cause.” Rather than a court stepping in, I would have preferred that you had simply used the discretion that you have to make a reasonable accommodation for the Beren Academy students.
I fully understand that TAPPS is a private organization representing private schools, but I also recognize that TAPPS relies on public facilities to host playoff games. This weekend’s games, for example, are scheduled to be played at public schools. So this is not a simple, straightforward issue.
Once the dust settles, I would like to host a lunch with yourself and TAPPS Board Members to discuss how we can prevent this issue from reoccurring. I ask that you contact my office at your convenience.