State superintendent upholds suspension of East St. Louis track season

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - After winning a brief reprieve Monday morning, the East St. Louis High School boys' track season is ending prematurely.

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith intervened that afternoon following a stalemate between the East St. Louis District 189 Superintendent and the school board.

Student, athletes, and supporters gathered at the District Administrative Offices in East St. Louis that morning as a last-ditch effort to save their track season. Monday was the last chance for the decision to be reversed for students to be able to participate in the state championships. The school board voted to restore the track team's season, in opposition with District 189 Superintendent Arthur Culver.

Culver initially opted to cancel the rest of the track season following a brawl during a May 8 track meet.

The fight broke out between students and athletes at East St. Louis High School. The junior varsity team had just completed a relay when the altercation began in the stands near the finish line and the fight quickly escalated. The fight forced officials to postpone the meet.

Officials confirmed some members of the East St. Louis track team contributed to the escalation of the of the fight and the district elected to end the season altogether.

Parents and team members not involved in the fight were upset about the district's decision to cancel the season, robbing them of a chance to compete in the state championships and affect their scholarship opportunities.

Lawyers representing one of the students on the East St. Louis High School track team sent a letter to the school district Monday morning. Raymond Mix III hired Sandifer-Purchase Attorneys at Law to submit a statement to East St. Louis School District 189. The letter said the district was violating the students' code of conduct by canceling the track season. No students were allowed due process as outlined in the student handbook. Read the entire letter here.

State superintendent Smith said he agreed with Culver that the animosity between those involved in the May 8 fight had not dissipated and that it would be in the best interest of safety to cancel the remainder of the track season.