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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
February 21, 2001
P-B-T faces suit over swimmer's ban at state meet
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, February 21, 2001 - A lawsuit has been filed against the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD and its board members by the parents of a Pecos High School swimmer
over their son's suspension from the swimming team prior to this weekend's
Class 4A state meet in Austin.
Ronald Ray Daniel and wife, Jeannie Daniel, filed the suit Tuesday
on behalf of their son Cortney V. Freeman, who was barred from participating
in this weekend's meet by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Athletic Director Lawrence
"Bubba" Williams for a violation of the high school's code of conduct.
The lawsuit stems from a letter Freeman received from Williams on Monday
saying he would not be allowed to participate in the meet. On Tuesday,
attorney Roddy Harrison filed the suit on behalf of the Daniels, and Reeves
County Court-At-Law Judge Lee Green signed a temporary injunction against
Williams' action on Tuesday.
P-B-T Superintendent Don Love said the district's lawyers have been
contacted about the lawsuit, but declined to comment about the situation.
Williams and Love met with Freeman's parents last week, after which the
decision was made to keep the senior from competing in the Class 4A state
"It's the school's position that we're not going to comment on kids,
employees or personnel," Love said, while P-B-T school board members also
had no comments about the lawsuit or Judge Green's injunction.
For the injunction to be overturned, a hearing would have to be held
before the state meet begins on Friday. No hearing had been scheduled in
County Court-At-Law as of press time.
The suit listed Love, along with board president Louis Matta, board
members, Brent Shaw, Steve Valenzuela, Paul Deishler, Earl Bates, Billie
Sadler and David Flores, were served with the petition Tuesday evening.
"It hasn't been to the board yet, so basically we don't know anything,"
"I need to find out more information on this particular issue," Valenzuela
Freeman, 18, is a member of the Pecos Eagle Swim Team, and qualified
for the Class 4A state meet in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle races, and
as a member of Pecos' 200 medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
He is seeded sixth and eighth in his individual events, while the 200 yard
medley team is ranked first going into Friday's Class 4A preliminaries.
The lawsuit notes that Freeman received a ticket violation on Jan.
28, the day after the District 2-4A swim meet in Big Spring. On Feb. 5,
he signed a punishment imposed in connection with the ticket violation,
signed by Reeves County Game Warden Jim Allen.
Freeman was given a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia.
They claim that he never suffered a final conviction for that offense.
Freeman received a suspended sentence for a period of three months
and that once the suspended sentence has been completed, he will never
have suffered a final conviction and the complaint will be dismissed.
In their lawsuit, the Daniels claim that their son was never charged
with possession of marijuana or marijuana residue. They state that the
citation is contrary to the complaint because Freeman never received any
citation for any charge of possession of marijuana.
The Daniels' allege that their son has pursued with diligence all of
the administrative remedies that are available to them as required and
that on Feb. 19, Freeman received a letter reflecting that he would not
be allowed to participate for the remainder of the swim season and this
includes the state finals meet.
The suit claims that Freeman has been fully punished. In addition,
he has suffered humiliation, embarrassment, and also punishment imposed
by the school district. He has suffered two separate punishments over and
above that required by the law. One being the punishment from his parents,
the other being the punishment by the school district.
The Daniels' state in their petition that Freeman signed a contract
on May 19, 2000, along with his mother. They claim that on paragraph six
of the contract it states as follows: "Athletes whose behavior away from
school that is deemed inappropriate, arrested and found guilty in court
will be dismissed from that said sport season. A second offense within
one calendar year will result in automatic dismissal from all sports activities
for one fully year.
The plaintiffs state that "Item 6" in the Extracurricular Athletic
Contract as referred to in Exhibit C is ambiguous from the contract signed
by Freeman. In this connection, Item 6 of the Extracurricular Athletic
Contract states as follows: "Athletes whose behavior away from school
is deemed to be in violation of the Code of Conduct, or who are arrested
and found guilty of criminal offenses, will be dismissed from the particular
sport in which they are participating for that sport's season."
The contract that he signed uses the word "arrested and found guilty
in court…" whereas in Item 6 of the Extracurricular Athletic Contract
states, "or who are arrested and found guilty."
Petitioners state that this is ambiguous and is not clear and is impossible
to comprehend. Furthermore, they say that the Extracurricular Athletic
Contract signed by Cortney V. Freeman and his mother, Jeannie Daniel, is
the one that should control and, in this instance, Freeman being an athlete
on the Pecos Swim Team even though he was arrested has never been found
guilty in any court and that such contract should prevail.
Plaintiffs say that the Extracurricular Athletic Contract imposed upon
them for punishment by the school district is null and void because they
never executed or signed the May 19, 2001 letter and neither did the Athletic
The Daniels claim that they nor their son, signed the letter telling
them that Freeman could not swim in the State Meet, addressed to them by
Williams in his letter.
They filed this suit against the defendant for their damages that exceed
the minimum jurisdictional limits of this court and that the plaintiffs
deserve the right to amend this, to more particularly set out the damages
sustained and suffered by them.
The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction enjoining the school
district from imposing any type of punishment of any nature whatsoever
against Freeman regarding the Pecos Swim Team activities.
The Daniels say in their suit that they are proud of their son and
state that the same should be honored and recognized as athletic accomplishment
to the benefit of the benefit of their son as well as his growth and to
the benefit of his in the best interest of justice and that to deny him
the right to participate for the remainder of the swim season is harsh
and cruel punishment and unusual in that it violates his constitutional
rights as provided by the Constitution of the United States of America
and the Constitution of the State of Texas as amended.
The family says that they are suffering from irreparable harm and injury
and that they have no adequate remedies at law available to them at this
time other than to obtain an injunction enjoining the school district and
instructing them not to impose any type of punishment against Freeman denying
him the right to participate for the remainder of the swim season for the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD swim team and that he should be allowed to participate
in the swim team.
The Plaintiffs state that the punishment has already been imposed by
the court and that Freeman has been further punished by his parents. That
is double punishment enough.
The Daniels' further state that the punishment imposed by the school
district is arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory in that by the school
district's own rules and regulations, and that the rules are ambiguous,
unclear and vague in that to allow the school district to impose a handbook
that was never signed by any parent or Freeman, nor was it ever dated nor
was it even signed by the Athletic Director, Lawrence Williams, and to
apply those rules of conduct "Item 6" against Freeman is unfair.
The failure of the school district to impose the rules as stated in
the Extracurricular Athletic Contract signed by the plaintiffs on May 19,
2000, in itself states that Freeman shall not be punished because Freeman
even though arrested was never found guilty in a court of law and never
having been found guilty of any crime, said punishment imposed by the school
district is contrary to the law and to a civilized world.
In their petition, the Daniels said that Freeman should not be required
to suffer multiple punishments for a minor offense but, more appropriately,
that Freeman be recognized for hard work, diligence, service to his school
and that the failure of the school district to support Freeman and his
parents is an outrage, disgusting, and inappropriate behavior on their
In addition to serving as Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Athletic Director,
Williams also is the Pecos High School baseball coach. The week before
he and Love met with Freeman's parents to discuss the Jan. 28 violation
Williams suspended one of his own players on a similar charge, but one
that did involve an on-campus arrest.
On Feb. 9, Williams suspended pitcher Pifi Montoya for the 2001 season
for a violation of the school's code of conduct, following an arrest inside
Pecos High School involving marijuana the previous day. Montoya, who was
scheduled to be the team's No. 1 pitcher going into this season and was
the team's No. 2 pitcher last year, missed the final six weeks of the 2000
baseball season following an off-campus arrest which also came under the
school district's code of conduct violations.
Text of school district's letter
In a letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Daniel Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD Athletic Director Lawrence Williams explained why Cortney Freeman could
not participate in the State Swim Meet.
The letter said:
Based upon all the information the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School
District has received to date, Cortney V. Freeman will not be allowed to
participate for the remainder of the swim season.
The district has received and reviewed the Article 15.27 of the Texas
Code of Criminal Procedure and the deferred disposition order signed by
Justice of the Peace, Lamberto Herrera. Based upon this information, I
believe Cortney V. Freeman was in possession of drug paraphernalia and
residue which tested positive as marijuana.
As provided in the 2000-2001 Pecos High School handbook for students,
parents, teachers and administrators, Item 6 in the Extra Curricular Athletic
Contract states "Athletes whose behavior away from school is deemed to
be in violation of the Code of Conduct, or who are arrested and found guilty
of criminal offenses, will be dismissed from the particular sport in which
they are participating for that sport's season."
I am still awaiting documents from the county attorney's office, which
I will review and factor into the decision as soon as these documents have
Enclosed you will find Policy FNG Legal and Local. If you are not satisfied
you should use these policies to file an appeal with the district.
Posse seeks ways to revive cook-off
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, February 21, 2001 - Several Reeves County Sheriff's Posse members
discussed way of reviving the Fall Fair's barbecue cook off, during a meeting
Monday night at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Barn.
The Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce canceled last year's World's Championship
Barbeque Cook Off last October due to lack of participation. The event
had been an annual part of the Reeves County Fall Fair since the early
The posse offered to take up the task of sponsoring the cook off.
Chairman for the barbecue cook off committee Billy Edwards said that
the group was taking suggestions and comments from members who have participated
in the cook off in the past.
"We got a lot of good comments and suggestions," he said.
The members and cook off committee discussed many things that would
improve the cook off and make more enticing for people to sign up.
The group discussed if changing the cook off date would make much of
a difference in participation.
One member suggested moving it to an open weekend for the Pecos Eagle
Varsity Football team, though
Edwards said that the date would probably remain the same, on the weekend
of the Fall Fair.
The subject of whether or not the posse should provide the cookers
with meat or if they would provide it themselves.
The group discussed how many people, in previous cook-offs actually
turned in the meat that was provided or if they bought their own.
They also talked about how much should be charged for each slot. Before
canceling the cook off last year, the Chamber charged $75 for one slot
in the cook-off.
The members also discussed having other things going on during the
One suggestion was to have a washer tournament for a small fee with
prize money going to the winners.
Edwards said after the posse members met with the committee to give
suggestions, they then met to discuss what would be suggested to the whole
"It's not final until we meet with the posse," he said.
The cook off committee would probably recommend charging $50 per slot,
keeping it during the Fall Fair, having a washer tournament and limiting
the cook off to brisket and pork ribs, according to Edwards.
"They might want to add other things to it," Edwards said.
He also said the posse is not looking at the cook off as a profit-making
event, just as something fun for the community to do.
"We're not going to try to make any money," he said.
Edwards said that the committee also discussed having a raffle during
the cook off to raffle off a barbecue trailer.
"We've got a pretty good design on a barbecue pit," he said.
The committee is scheduled to present their recommendations to the
posse during a meeting on March 5.
Edwards said that the committee and members are excited to take on
the project and hopes to be able to get a large participation from the
community and surrounding areas.
"We're looking forward to doing it," he said.
EQIP program seeks participants before deadline
PECOS, February 21, 2001 - The last ranking deadline for the Environmental
Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) is set for March 31.
A program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), EQIP
provides technical, educational and financial assistance to eligible farmers
and ranchers to address soil, water and related natural resource concerns
on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.
Contracts for eligible producers are made for a period of five to 10 years.
To learn more about EQIP or to submit a contract application, contact
Darren Richardson at 915-445-3196, extension 3 or go by 1415 W. Third St.
PECOS, February 21, 2001 - High Tuesday 87. Low this morning 46. Forecast
for tonight: Becoming cloudy. Low in the lower 40s. East wind 5 to 15 mph.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers. High in the
mid 50s. Southeast wind 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy with
a 20 percent chance of showers. Low in the mid 40s. Friday: Partly cloudy
with a chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the 60s. Saturday: Partly cloudy.
Lows in the 30s. Highs around 70.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise