Father sues 9-R over discipline

Sunday, March 23, 2014 4:45 PM

A parent is suing Durango School District 9-R for unspecified monetary damages as the result of disciplinary action against his son.

Durango resident Robert Cikraji filed the lawsuit in 6th Judicial District court on behalf of his son, Christoph.

The incident that triggered the lawsuit occurred in September 2013 when Christoph, a 14-year-old freshman at Durango High School and a member of the school cross country team, ran a 10K charity race in Dayton, Ohio, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force.

When he returned, he was suspended for one cross country meet because he had not obtained written permission from his school principal to take part in a nonschool event.

In lengthy pleadings in 6th Judicial District court, Robert Cikraji alleges the Colorado High School Activities Association rules under which Durango High School operates regulate cross country but not road races, such as the Ohio event.

Cikraji also alleges that CHSSA regulations pertain to team competition, not an athlete’s individual endeavor.

His allegations are subterfuge, school district spokeswoman Julie Popp said. It all boils down to this, she said:

At the beginning of a sport season, a high school athlete and his/her parents must sign a CHSSA policy, agreeing to abide by its stipulations, she said.

One of the stipulations requires that if the athlete wants to participate in a nonschool athletic event during his/her school’s regular season, written permission from the principal is needed.

Cikraji and Christoph signed the CHSSA policy, but they did not request specific permission for the Ohio event, Popp said.

Christoph competed in Ohio the same day his teammates were running in Colorado.

The district suspended him for one meet, but he finished the season, Popp said. The boy’s breach of policy placed the entire team on probationary status with CHSSA.

“The district completely disagrees with the factual and legal basis of the claim and plans to defend vigorously,” Popp said. “We also will seek restitution for any legal fees we acquire.”

District Superintendent Dan Snowberger said in a statement: “I’m saddened that the district’s action necessary to uphold the rules has resulted in a parent feeling that a lawsuit is necessary. The district stands behind its actions and expects this suit to be dismissed.”

In 6th Judicial District court, Cikraji alleges the district interfered with his parental rights, incorrectly disciplined Christoph, inflected emotional distress and defamation and violated due process.

Cikraji asks for monetary damages to be determined at trial, attorney fees and court costs.

The school district has filed a motion with the court to dismiss the complaint.