Fairview School District being investigated for basketball team’s selection process

Local News

The Fairview School District is being investigated by the US Department of Education for its process of selecting players for the high school basketball team. This comes in the wake of a complaint filed by the parents of a student who has Asperger’s Syndrome who was excluded from the team. 

According to the Department of Education, they sent a letter notifying the Fairview School District that they have opened the complaint for investigation and asked them for written materials relevant to to this allegation.

“I’m not a charity case and I definitely have the skills.” This is the message 16-year-old Tim Linhart has for the Fairview High School basketball team. He tried out for the team and didn’t make it, but he says he knows he has what it takes to be a Fairview tiger.  “After doing all of this hard work and I’ve even gone up to the gym… like it wasn’t even mandatory, I just went up there to get better essentially and  after all that, it was kind of like all this stuff you did didn’t matter anymore,” said Tim. 

Tim’s mother Rebecca Linhart says she believes the decision to not put her son on the team was based off of Tim having Asperger’s Syndrome which is a condition that affects a person’s communication skills. “The coach wouldn’t openly have conversations with him as much as he would other students, so it makes me wonder why they didn’t go out of their way to kind of help facilitate some better communication with Tim,” said Rebecca Linhart. 

Beaver High School Basketball Coach Greg Cercone has developed more than 75 division one basketball players and trained more than 20 professionals in his career.  After assessing Tim’s basketball skill level he wrote:  “In my professional opinion, Tim Linhart is a skilled, fundamental and proficient high school basketball player.”

“For a kid who has spent a majority of his life just practicing and practicing and working hard at the things that he enjoys. The more he works at things, he actually excels. So, I was trying to as a parent explain to them that this is harsh,” Rebecca added. 

A child advocate with the group Mission Empower commented on the situation and how this could affect Tim.”We press for inclusion, not exclusion and with this being such a big part of Timmy’s life you can just see a step backwards… we’re kind of regressing and not doing him any favors by allowing this to happen,” said Shawn Rogers, child advocate at Mission Empower. 

The Fairview School District Superintendent, Erik Kincade  says they couldn’t discuss a specific student with us, but did issue this statement about this situation which reads : 

“The Fairview School District has found any accusations of student discrimination to be absolutely false. The District provides all students, including students with disabilities, a chance to participate in extracurricular activities. There are laws, procedures, and protocols in place to ensure that students with disabilities are protected, and the Fairview School District strives to meet these legal standards. We have a number of students with disabilities who participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including athletics and the arts programs. Having a disability does not preclude a student from participation. At the same time, having a disability also does not guarantee a student a spot on an extracurricular roster. Our basketball program has consistently been one of the top programs in Erie County for the past 15 years. The job of our coach is to create a roster that gives our team the very best chance to succeed. I’ve reviewed this situation, and I can say with 100% confidence that all policies and procedures for selection were followed correctly.”

Meanwhile, Tim added that being excluded from the team has been difficult for him, but he still has love for the game. 

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