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Sisters denied multiple sports chance claim sexual discrimination

Jonathan Wall
Prep Rally

Shelbi and Erin Barbour had aspirations of being dual-sport athletes at Opelousas (La.) High. They had every right to play two sports -- the school's rules allow all student-athletes to play a maximum of two in the same season -- but for some unknown reason, the Barbour's were denied the chance to play volleyball and softball, even though they had written approval from the school's principal.

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In a bizarre story that will likely have a few more twists and turns along the way, the Daily World reported that the Barbour family filed a sexual discrimination suit with the school system for denying their daughters the opportunity to play multiple sports.

Opelousas apparently allows male athletes the chance to play on a maximum of two teams per season, but based on the Barbour's claim, the rules didn't apply to their children.

However, like most suits, this isn't an open-and-shut case. Despite claiming volleyball coach Sarah Scott denied Shelbi Barbour the chance to be a part of the team, the school claims the only the part of the suit that's factual is that both girls were given written approval from the principal to participate in two sports.

School system attorney Gerard Caswell told the Daily World that while the Barbour sisters received written authorization from the school, the sexual discrimination suit is highly questionable.

"Shelbi Barbour received authorization from Principal Rodney Johnson to participate in both cheerleading and volleyball with the understanding that she was to report to cheerleader practice at seventh period and at 3 p.m. she was to report to the gym for volleyball practice and then following volleyball practice she was to return to cheerleader practice," according to the school system's response. "No one at Opelousas Senior High School refused to allow Shelbi Barbour to participate in dual sports."

So who's telling the truth? It's impossible to say at this point but, as the Daily World noted, Paul Barbour claims a heated exchange with OHS athletic director Larry Dautrieve, at a sotfball game last spring, could have something to do with both of his daughters being denied the opportunity to play sports at the school.

Following the exchange with Dautrieve, Barbour said in the suit that the school told him his daughters weren't welcome on the softball team in the future, but they would be allowed to play if he signed an agreement stating he wouldn't show up to games in the future.

He later was told that his daughters could play softball if he signed an agreement restricting him from attending any softball games in which his daughters participated. He did not sign the agreement. The school system also denied that this happened.

Based on these claims, it would appear the sexual discrimination suit could definitely have something to do with the heated exchange.

In all honesty, this could be the school's way of getting back at Barbour for the softball incident. It's a shame parents and school politics could be keeping two students from playing the sports they love, but just looking at the facts presented, this suit seems to be nothing more than a power struggle.

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