KENILWORTH — Basketball player Sydney Phillips has been turned away from the Catholic school that refused to let her play with the boys basketball team for most of this past season after the girls team was dissolved.

Her father, Scott Phillips told  New Jersey 10.1.5 that the applications for both Sydney and his youngest daughter Kaitlyn to attend St. Theresa's School in Kenilworth during the 2017-18 year were rejected. A hearihg on the matter is scheduled for Superior Court in Newark on Thursday afternoon.

Sydney's hopes of playing with the boys were dashed after Scott Phillips brought legal action against the school. The school expelled the girls citing a clause in the school handbook allowing expulsion “if a parent implicates St. Theresa School in a legal matter, or names St. Theresa School as a defendant in a civil matter, the parent/guardian will be requested to remove their children immediately from the school.”

An appeals court ruled that the girls had to be allowed back to school pending the outcome of the court hearing. Cardinal Joseph Tobin reversed the expulsion and ordered Sydney to be allowed on the team, making the 5th grade basketball team at St. John the Apostle School in Clark a co-ed team for the rest of the year.

"As a private institution, they have the right not to accept a registration, and that's what they did," Newark Archdiocese spokesman James Goodness said.

In a separate statement issued on Thursday Goodness said that the Phillips suit contradicts the words of their own attorney, "no one is above the law," and is about more than sports.

"The plaintiffs have demonstrated clearly and strongly that, in their minds, the rules and laws of St. Theresa School and Parish do not apply to them.
For them, rules may be fine for other parents and students in the St. Theresa community, but not for them; everyone must treat them and their children differently," Goodness wrote.

Goodness said that the the Phillips suit threatens "to shatter the nurturing environment" of the 63-year-old school by creating "intimidation and fear in parents, school officials and yes, students."

Goodness asked rhetorically why Sydney and Kaitlyn's parents would want them to attend a school whose collaborative approach to education they disagree with.

"The Archdiocese and St. Theresa Parish and School continue to urge the court to recognize the bad behavior of the plaintiffs, dismiss this case, and allow St. Theresa School, its faculty, parents and students to begin a new school year in September without the disruption that the plaintiffs’ continued presence surely will cause," Goodness wrote.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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