Parents: School trip to AZ canceled over politics

May 12, 2010 (HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.) It appears that the cancellation could be because of that state's new immigration law.

School officials say it is based in part over safety concerns. Some parents who are upset by the decision believe it is a political protest.

Parents are now scrambling to find another tournament for the girls to compete in, but they are upset over not just the decision, but also about how they say they have not been able to talk to administrators about it.

The parents say that playing basketball in Arizona should not be turned into a political issue.

This year, the team had quite a season winning its first championship conference in 26 years. They were planning for another first, competing in the tournament in Arizona later this year, but that trip has been canceled by the school district superintendent in what many believe is a political statement about that state's recent controversial immigration laws.

"They shouldn't use us to, like kind of protest that they don't like the law," said student Lauren Evans, a point guard on the team. "We just want to play basketball, and it shouldn't affect our playing basketball there."

The assistant superintendent has released a statement saying in part that the decision to cancel the trip is not a political statement regarding Arizona's immigration law, and that with District 113 being diverse and it not yet known who will be on next year's basketball team, they cannot commit at this point to playing a venue where some of the students' safety might be placed at risk.

Parents, however, say the girls are used as political pawns and at the least should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they wanted to go.

"They could have gone to Arizona - they could have discussed it with students in Arizona, and really it is a teachable moment that has been lost because of a knee-jerk reaction," said parent Michael Evans.

The girls held bake sales and car washes the past few months to raise money for the trip. Now the debate about the decision to cancel that trip is reaching beyond the team, with students on campus weighing in on both sides of the issue.

"I think they deserve to go - they're a good team - they won their conference this year," said student Kalie Greenberg. "They're a very good team, and I think they would do really well in this tournament. I don't think politics should be an issue."

Student Jennifer Gonzlez said that she would agree with a political statement against the law.

"If Arizona wouldn't be doing that, then the students would be able to go and have the opportunity to experience that, but I think it's good they're not going," said Gonzlez. "I support that the law is not good."

The assistant superintendent earlier told the Chicago Tribune that the trip scheduled for December was canceled because it would not be aligned with the schools beliefs and values. The Arizona law requires all immigrants to carry paperwork and allows police to question anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

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