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TAPPS head: Beren Academy should never have been accepted to association

JTA

April 2, 2012 | 7:58 am

Beren coach Chris Cole instructing his players during a timeout at the championship game on March 3. Photo by Samantha Steinberg

Beren coach Chris Cole instructing his players during a timeout at the championship game on March 3. Photo by Samantha Steinberg

The Beren Academy Orthodox Jewish day school should never have been accepted to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, the association’s director told a Texas newspaper.

“We shouldn’t have accepted them in the first place,”  Edd Burleson, director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or TAPPS, told the The Dallas Morning News in an interview published on Sunday.

The Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston made international headlines early last month after requesting that a semifinal championship basketball game be rescheduled so that it did not conflict with the Jewish Sabbath.

The game was rescheduled after a group of parents of students sued the association in court. The team won the semifinal game, but went on to lose the final, also rescheduled to a later time on Saturday after the Sabbath was over.

Burleson told the newspaper that he believes that the association would have won the case if it had gone to court. “If we had fought it, we would have won,” Burleson told the newspaper. “But that would have taken weeks. We didn’t have the time.”

“What else would you want me to say?” Burleson said in the interview. “Want me to come up with some politically correct gobbledygook? I can’t. I’m telling you that’s how I feel.”

TAPPS had said in a statement posted on its website following its decision not to change the semifinal that when the Beren Academy first met with the association’s board in 2009 to discuss membership, it was told that tournament games are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, and that the school’s athletic director said he “understood” and “did not see a problem.”

The Texas Catholic Conference Education Department, representing 43 Texas Catholic high schools told the Houston Chronicle that Burleson’s comments came as a surprise, and that the group is committed to reforms that will make TAPPS more welcoming to a diverse membership.

The group said in a statement that if Burleson’s position remains the same that Catholic schools “will reconsider their future affiliation with TAPPS.” It also said that in a meeting last week with TAPPS member schools, Burleson committed to working to resolve diversity issues.

The association in 2010 rejected a Muslim school from Houston for membership.

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