Published May 13, 2010
The outrage over an Illinois school administrator's decision to cancel a girls' basketball team's trip to Arizona has caught fire on the Internet, where a Facebook group has been set up to call for her ouster.
"You send kids to China but your beliefs and values dont align with Arizona? That just proves you have no business working at a school," reads the Facebook group's description.
In a statement released Wednesday, the superintendent of District 113 in Illinois, which oversees Highland Park High School, defended Assistant Superintendent Suzan Hebson's decision not to send the championship team to a tournament in Arizona in December and said it was not a political statement in response to that state's new immigration law.
"Rather, under long standing constitutional law, all school districts are required to provide an education to all children within the District's borders regardless of immigration status," Superintendent George Fornero said in his statement.
But that hasn't stopped the creation of a "Fire Suzan Hebson" Facebook group, which several thousand members as of Thursday evening.
“Tell me it's because Arizona leads the country in kidnappings not because Arizona is taking a stand to defend itself when the federal goverment will not,” wrote one member of the group.
Attempts to reach the Facebook group's creator were unsuccessful on Thursday. Messages seeking comment from Hebson were not immediately returned.
The girls' parents said there was no vote or consultation regarding Hebson's decision, which they called confusing -- especially, they said, because none of the players on the team are illegal immigrants.
"I'm not sure whose values and what values and what beliefs they're talking about. We were just going to Arizona to play basketball and our daughters were very disappointed to find out the trip had been canceled," Michael Evans, a father of one of the players, told Fox News.
If a player was worried about her safety, Evans said, she could always opt to stay home from the tournament without forcing the entire team to do the same.
"This tournament was voluntary, so students could decide not to go if they thought they were at some sort of risk of some sort of harm to themselves, but to penalize all the other girls because of some potential risk? I don't understand it," he said.
Evans said he also failed to understand why the school allowed so many other trips, but not this one.
"The school has sent children to China, they've sent children to South America, they've sent children to the Czech Republic, but somehow Arizona is more unsafe for them than those places," he said. "The beliefs and values of China are apparently aligned, since they approved that trip."
One player, who said she opposes the Arizona law, told Fox News she didn't see how the tournament was related.
"It's ultimately the state's decision, no matter what I think," the girl told Fox News. "Not playing basketball in Arizona is not going to change anything."
The district said in a statement Wednesday that is legally required to provide an education to all children within its border regardless of immigration status and is responsible for their "safety, security and liberty" when they travel.
"The selection of a varsity basketball team for the 2010-2011 winter athletic season will take place in November, 2010," the statement read. "The team has yet to be selected. We cannot commit at this time to playing at a venue where some of our students’ safety or liberty might be placed at risk because of state immigration law."