A former student at Los Altos High School (Hacienda Heights, CA) has filed a lawsuit against the school district and his former baseball coach, citing repeated benching from games and describing it as “harassment and bullying.”
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that 17-year-old Robbie Lopez and his parents are seeking “$150,000 or more” in the lawsuit, claiming that varsity baseball coach Gabriel Lopez (no relation) repeatedly refused to let Robbie play throughout his senior year. The lawsuit claims that Robbie was a starter for three seasons before Gabriel arrived as the new head coach at Los Altos.
The family believes the benching began after Robbie’s father, Robert Lopez II, “complained to the district’s athletic director after a disagreement over a fundraising game.”
The players that didn’t participate in the fundraising event were then not allowed to practice, according to the lawsuit. And this caused the father to then speak with the school, as it’s illegal in the state of California to require public school students to fundraise in order to participate in school activities.
The lawsuit also references an alumni game, where current Los Altos baseball players take on former players from the school in what is basically just a fun scrimmage. Every senior participated in the game, except for Robbie.
Here’s more on the lawsuit, including quotes from the family’s lawyer, Michael Ponce (via The San Gabriel Valley Tribune):
“For over four (4) months and 14 games, (Robbie Lopez) has been benched and not the opportunity to show his offensive or defensive capabilities,” the suit states.
Michael Ponce, the lawyer representing Robbie Lopez and his parents, said the prolonged period of relegating him to the bench is “an abuse of the coach’s discretion.”
“It’s more of a targeted situation” than a standard case of a coach using his own judgement, Ponce said. “These are repeated actions by the coach, which we feel, my client and I, as well as his father, feel are intentional. They’re targeted against (my client) specifically.”
Hacienda La Puente Unified athletic director Andrew Formano and assistant superintendent of human resources Jill Rojas both said they could not comment on the matter. Gabriel Lopez did not respond to a request for comment.
And here’s a showcase/recruiting video of Robbie, showing off his offensive, defensive, and pitching skills.