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February 21, 2001

P-B-T faces suit over swimmer's ban at state meet

Staff Writers

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 meet.
"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," said Deishler.
"I need to find out more information on this particular issue," Valenzuela said.
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 Director.
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 part.
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 been received.

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.


Lawrence Williams
Athletic Director

Posse seeks ways to revive cook-off

Staff Writer

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 1970s.
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 cook-off.
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 posse group.
"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.

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