DALLAS — The mother of slain Wilmer Hutchins basketball star Troy Causey Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that illegal recruiting practices at Dallas ISD schools led to her son’s death a year ago.
Tammy Simpson on Monday sued DISD Superintendent Mike Miles and Terry Smith, head of Dallas County’s Juvenile Department.
“We’re aware of the suit but the district has yet to be served,” a DISD spokesman said Tuesday. Smith has not commented on the litigation.
Simpson alleges that coaches visited her 18-year-old son while he was in custody at Dallas County Youth Village during an eight-month stint there following an assault arrest and convinced him to play basketball.
“It has been the long-time practice, and therefore the actual policy of the Department, to allow DISD personnel to visit with otherwise incarcerated youth for the purpose of sports recruiting,” Simpson’s lawsuit states.
Causey died March 24, 2014, after a beating the day prior at a house on Cinnamon Oaks Drive in southern Dallas where he was living. Jonathan Tramaine Turner, who played basketball for Dallas Madison High School, was arrested and faces a manslaughter charge. Causey and Turner lived with Causey’s third cousin and the cousin’s parents in a converted garage at the house.
According to Simpson’s lawsuit, “…Upwards of 13 such DISD recruiting placements had occurred at properties owned by the same owner of the residence where Causey and Turner had been placed.” The owner of the home could not be reached Tuesday.
A 2014 WFAA investigation, confirmed by a subsequent internal Dallas ISD inquiry, found that both Turner and Causey were improperly recruited before they ended up living together. More than a dozen administrators and coaches, including the head of DISD athletics, lost their jobs after the situation was brought to light.
Simpson told News 8 last year that even though she herself lived in the Richardson School District, she agreed to let her son transfer to Wilmer-Hutchins for his senior year despite state rules prohibiting recruiting and changing schools for athletic purposes.
The trade-off, she said, was that Coach John Burley promised her son would get a good education.
But first, paperwork had to be filled out claiming she and her son actually lived in the Wilmer-Hutchins attendance zone, she said.
Burley, who no longer works at Wilmer Hutchins, is not a defendant in Simpson’s lawsuit.
Simpson said that the juvenile department gave Burley and others “unadulterated and unsupervised access to Causey within the Department and Causey’s private juvenile records.”
The lawsuit continues: “In these matters, DISD and the Department acted in concert and coordinated action. DISD knew and understood full well that access to potential recruiting targets incarcerated within the Department resulted in juveniles – minors – being transferred between homes and schools. Potential athletes who were outside of parental control and supervision in the Department were identified by DISD and through intimidation and both positive and negative influence were cajoled and manipulated into agreeing to play in DISD schools.
“Students are treated as property – good not for the content of their character, but for the success they can produce in athletic endeavors,” Simpson’s lawsuit states.
WFAA investigations have revealed widespread recruiting violations in Dallas high school sports. A series of reports by Brett Shipp led state athletics officials to strip South Oak Cliff of two of its state titles.
Following Causey’s death, Madison High School had two of its state titles taken away because Turner wasn’t eligible.