A high school student battling cancer in Northville, N.Y., will be back on the basketball court this week after the school first reportedly sidelined him due to his school attendance record. Diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, his cancer treatment involved heavy chemotherapy and prevented him from attending school every day, though he hired a tutor to keep him caught up.
Tim Monette, 17, was reportedly cleared by his doctor and made an emotional return to his basketball team in December. However, on Wednesday, the Times Union reported that school administrators told him that he couldn’t play for the Northville High School basketball team because of his attendance issues.
In response, Monette’s classmates took it upon themselves to get their friend back on the court. Students used the hashtag “#LetTimPlay” and about 200 students even staged a sit-in in the school gym on Thursday morning.
— MiTcH (@Mitchy7165) January 16, 2014
“When he said he couldn’t play, my heart just dropped,” Shawna Monette, Tim’s mother, told the Times Union. “His basketball and his sports are everything to him.”
As pressure mounted, Northville school superintendent Debra Lynker issued a statement claiming “misinformation” was spread about the situation on social media:
High School principal Mariah Kramer questioned Tim Monette’s eligibility to play basketball, given that the district policy requires a student be in attendance on the day of the game to be eligible to play. She responded fairly and properly by letting him play last night and telling his parents that she needed to investigate this further in the morning. Never did she say definitively that he could not play. After consulting me and the school’s attorney first thing this morning it was decided that the home tutoring he is receiving constitutes the requisite attendance and as long as he has a doctor’s clearance for each game, he may be eligible to play. It is unfortunate that misinformation circulated through social media before it could even be resolved properly.
However, Monette dismissed the superintendent’s explanation in a public tweet last week.
“There was no misunderstanding they told me I couldn’t play because it was policy,” he wrote, including the hashtag “#NiceTry.”
There was no misunderstanding they told me I couldn't play because it was policy #NiceTry
— Timmy Monette (@NextBGriffin_23) January 16, 2014