Parents take two Johnson County school districts to court over playing golf as scheduled

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — There should be exceptions to every rule.

That’s the mission behind a lawsuit filed by parents of high school golfers representing two large school districts in Johnson County, Kansas.

The suit, which was filed on Tuesday, demands administrators with the Shawnee Mission School District and Blue Valley School District allow high school golf teams to play as scheduled.

Both of those districts have suspended all sporting events due to the ongoing pandemic.

Jay Hepler, whose daughter plays golf at Shawnee Mission East High School, and Todd Misemer, whose daughter is a standout golfer at Blue Valley West High School, are two of the four plaintiffs in the suit.

Hepler and Misemer contend their sport, which uses its own specific set of pandemic protocols, should be permitted for students. Many Kansas school systems have voted to permit the sport as scheduled.

“We want to move forward with the safety protocols we have in place. We want girls golf to continue in the Blue Valley School District and in Shawnee Mission — just like its continuing in the rest of Kansas, Misemer said.

Various summertime leagues in the metro, including the Kansas City Golf Association and U.S. Kids Golf/Kansas City, have used guidelines set by the United States Golf Association, which follows protocols recommended by the Center for Disease Control.

The lawsuit contends high school athletes can follow the same provisions, including a ban on sharing equipment and never touching the flagstick on greens.

“That’s the basis of what we’re presenting here. We believe golf can be played safely, and again, it’s an outlier in sports,” Hepler said. “This isn’t a political situation. We’re just trying to let our girls have the opportunity to get out there and complete. That’s the important thing to us.”

Both of these families come from high school programs that have won recent state golf championships. Shawnee Mission East won the 2019 Class 6A team championship, while Misemer’s daughter, Julia, won the Class 6A individual championship in both 2018 and 2019.

Their fathers said they’re confident the legal action they’re taking will give all young golfers a chance to play.

The Shawnee Mission School District won’t comment on this pending lawsuit. A spokesperson for the Blue Valley School District said administrators are merely following guidelines set by the state’s gaiting criteria.

Misemer and Hepler said they have a meeting scheduled with Blue Valley officials on Friday.

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