orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

August 30, 2011

OPINION: Schools must be careful

Orange Leader Opinion Page staff
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Justin Thomas’ story out of West Orange-Stark High School is a very unfortunate situation and first let us say we are sadden this happened to this young man in his senior year.

Thomas was ruled ineligible after documents proved he will be 20 years old on Sept. 15.

No matter what truly happened with Thomas’ birth certificate, the fact remains Thomas can still get an education which is far more important than any sporting event and he is still slated to attend Utah University.

It is hard to imagine how this exactly happened and the paper work slipped past officials for so long.

WO-S Coach Cornel Thompson discovered the issue when documents revealed Thomas had repeated the sixth grade at a private school before coming to WO-S.  Thomas had a document which had the date Sept. 15, 1991 scratched out and Sept. 15, 1992 was had replaced the date. Thompson then found more documents with the same changes.

It has been reported Thomas told Thompson he was 18 yet his mother could not later prove Thomas was born in 1992.

This really is a tragic story and we only hope Thomas can keep his head up and not let this stop him from having success.

This story also proves schools need to continue to take the time to check all the documents on every kid walking the halls.

We might not ever know the reason behind why this happened. The only positive is Thomas was eligible last year meaning no wins or state titles will have to be given back.

Be careful everyone and don’t ever put a child in a position like this. Thomas can and will bounce back yet this could have been a lot worse.