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Texas Catholic Conference Calls for Youth-Sports Review

Remember earlier this month, when the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) rescheduled its state basketball tournament (only upon court order) to accommodate one team's observance of the Jewish Sabbath?

As it turns out, the organization representing the state's 43 Catholic high schools wasn't such a big fan of how long it took TAPPS to act.

In a letter posted on the Houston Chronicle's website last Thurday, the education director of the Texas Catholic Conference wrote that TAPPS' unwillingness to adjust the schedule for Beren Academy's observance of the Jewish Sabbath "strongly suggests that the philosophy and approach of TAPPS is not consistent with the tenets of our faith."

Beren Academy initially appealed to TAPPS after finding out the game time of its state semifinal match-up (9 p.m. on a Friday) conflicted with players' observance of the Sabbath, but TAPPS rejected the rescheduling request. A day before the game took place, a Texas court issued a temporary restraining order, requiring that accommodations were to be made so Beren Academy could participate.

"The fact that it took filing a lawsuit and the relative ease with which the scheduling was solved strongly reinforces the concerns ... with the structure, policy, and apparently insensitive attitude of TAPPS," the ed. director, Margaret McGettrick, wrote.

McGettrick brings up a second incident in the letter, involving TAPPS' rejection of two Muslim schools for league membership. At the time, certain Catholic school superintendents "remained uncomfortable" with some of the reasoning, but gave TAPPS "the benefit of the doubt," according to the letter.

Now, "recent allegations" suggest that a bias against Islam may have had more to do with the Muslim schools' rejection than TAPPS first let on, McGettrick wrote.

Based on these two incidents, the Texas Catholic Conference called for a "comprehensive review" of TAPPS' governance and organizational structure to evaluate its policies for decisionmaking.

"Failure to sufficiently improve the structure and management of TAPPS will require a re-examination of our 43 Catholic schools' continued affiliation with TAPPS," McGettrick wrote. The 43 Catholic schools make up approximately 20 percent of TAPPS' member organizations, according to the Chronicle.

Edd Burleson, executive director of TAPPS, told the paper that after the Beren rescheduling incident, the organization reached out to every member school asking whether they wanted TAPPS to "adjust its rules to accommodate every need of every school or every individual."

"Just tell us what you want to do, so that we'll know how to proceed," he said in the survey, according to the paper.

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