Members of our mountain biking team have been discussing a parent who has exhibited disruptive behavior, misguided inquiries and artificial accusations for years. Our parents and coaching staff are wholly dedicated to our students’ safety, enjoyment and growth. When I was looking for advice to mitigate these distractions, I found your recent answer to the question: May nonprofit deny membership for asking too many questions? We interpret our bylaws to require a member to demonstrate alignment with our team and league beliefs and behaviors. May we refuse to keep this parent?
What you may do legally may be very different from what you want to do to pursue your mission. I assume that none of the caveats I mentioned in the answer to the prior question would prevent you from saying “no thank you” to this parent’s continued membership. If the parent’s kid can still participate on the team, I would have no problem with the refusal.
But if by barring the parent, you also deprive the kid of participation on the team, I wonder whether you are being true to your mission. You say you are “wholly dedicated” to your students’ safety, enjoyment and growth, not to the ease of administration of the program. Do you really want to punish the kid for the sins of the parent?
I have previously suggested a type of probationary membership in situations like this, in the hope that the parent will be less obnoxious if they realize that it might cost their child the right to participate. Ultimately, it is up to the leadership to decide, but keep in mind the purpose of the organization as well as the comfort of the managers.
The inquirer should ascertain if the athletic club comes under the Federal law commonly known as the Safe Sport Act (The Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017). The question suggests that the parent is committing child abuse which is banned by the Safe Sport law. The law is written very broadly. Therefore, it is likely this new federal law impacts youth sports organizations in every state. At a minimum, any organization involved in youth sports will likely be held to an increased “standard of care” regarding reporting, training, policies and procedures, and periodic safety system reviews. This writer, an adult athletic competitor, is required annually to undergo Safe Sport certification. These comments do not constitute legal advice or the unauthorized practice of law.
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