LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – Shelby County Schools and staff members from Martha Layne Collins High School are named in a lawsuit filed in federal court.
Keshia Clemons claims her 14-year-old daughter Tatum was unfairly kept from playing on the tennis team.
Shelby County Schools spokesman Ryan Allen said the district plans to file a response in court, but cannot comment to the media due to federal privacy laws.
“They were setting her up to have a panic attack what they were hoping for,” Clemons said.
Tatum lives with Asperger syndrome and an anxiety disorder. Asperger’s is a form of autism and causes Tatum to be extremely sensitive and struggle with being social.
In the lawsuit, Clemons claims a new tennis coach made fun of Tatum for her Asperger’s in 2014–leading her to complain to the school.
“I submitted a 17 page complaint and received a one page response. In which I was told, they were sorry Tatum had a difficult time–that she was welcome to try out the following year,” Clemons said. “Even though they’d never had tryouts.”
Clemons said Martha Layne Collins High School held their first try outs ever for the girls tennis team, but not for the boys tennis team.
“Only for the girls,” she said. “And the only people cut were Tatum and her two sisters.”
“First of all it violates Title IX, which is discrimination against gender,” Teddy Gordon, Clemons’ attorney, said. “Secondly, it was retaliation and discrimination.”
Clemons thinks all of this was in retaliation to her letter and discriminates her daughter because of a disability. She pulled Tatum from school on April 1, 2015.
According to Clemons, Tatum was able to play on the tennis team two years prior to this new coach taking over the team.