Federal Judge Grants Injunction Against Illinois High School Association Allowing Gordon Tech Student with Learning Disability to Wrestle

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Federal Judge Finds Likelihood of Success That Student-Athlete will Demonstrate That the IHSA’s Actions Violate the Americans with Disabilities Act

The IHSA simply refuses to do what is in the best interest of the student.

Matthew Lyon, a senior at Gordon Tech College Prep on the north side of Chicago, obtained a temporary injunction last Thursday allowing him to participate in all wrestling events for the remainder of the 2012-2013 academic year. The injunction, issued by Judge Darrah in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, came in spite of objections by the Illinois Highs School Association. Jacie C. Zolna and the Chicago trial law firm of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC represents Matthew.

According to the lawsuit, Matthew has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”). Due to academic problems caused by his disability, Matthew was ruled academically ineligible to compete on his high school’s wrestling team for the second semester of his junior year and ultimately repeated his junior year, the suit alleges. Although the IHSA allows student-athletes to compete up until the age of 20, it refused to grant eligibility to Matthew Lyon – who is only 18 and will not even turn 19 until this summer – simply because it took him longer than the traditional four years to finish high school. The IHSA also claimed that Matthew was ineligible because of its “8 semester rule” even though he has only wrestled seven semesters and is seeking only one more semester of eligibility.

“Dealing with the IHSA on this issue has been extremely maddening and frustrating for Matthew and our family,” said Mr. Zolna, whose family took guardianship of Matthew two years ago. “For reasons I can not comprehend, the IHSA simply refuses to do what is in the best interest of the student.”

Last week, a Federal Judge in the Northern District of Illinois agreed. In granting the injunction, Judge Darrah noted that “Lyon’s participation in wrestling has actually helped him succeed academically,” and granting him eligibility to wrestle his senior year will “in fact, be supporting [the IHSA’s] objective of providing Lyon with the experience of wrestling ‘in an educational setting which may provide enrichment to [his] educational experience.’”

“Matthew’s recent academic successes should be applauded by the IHSA and used as an example of what high school sports is all about,” said Mr. Zolna. “Instead, the IHSA chose to erect even more barriers for a student who has had to overcome obstacles his whole life.”

In his first night back in competition on Friday, Matthew pinned all three of his opponents in the first period, but lost the opening match of a tournament on Saturday in which Gordon Tech finished in 13th place out of 15 teams. “Win or lose, it just feels great being back with the team,” said Matthew. “If there is one thing I learned from this whole ordeal is that when you know in your heart you are right, keep fighting.”

The lawsuit, entitled Lyon v. Illinois High School Association, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 12-CV-173.

Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC is a trial law firm specializing in complex civil litigation and has a track record for aggressively taking on unique and difficult cases and obtaining favorable results for its clients.

For further information, please contact Jacie Zolna at (312) 372-2100.

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