Newark's archbishop in court over Catholic school basketball battle

KENILWORTH, New Jersey (WABC) -- There is a different kind of court battle for a basketball player in New Jersey.

She was kicked out of her Catholic school for wanting to play on the boys' team.

Newark's new archbishop, who's only been in that position since January, took the stand in court on Thursday.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin overruled the school's decision to expel 12-year-old Sydney Phillips from her school in Kenilworth.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin made time in his busy schedule to make an appearance to testify in this case involving the family of two girls who want to return to St. Theresa's School.

Those sisters' applications for the upcoming school year have been rejected.

So the family sued so the girls can be reinstated.

Last year, the 12-year-old daughter wanted to become a member of the boys' basketball team.

The school did have a girls' team but not enough kids came out last season to fill out the roster.

So the Phillips family sued to get their daughter Sydney on the team.

All of this was taking place around the same time Cardinal Tobin was coming onto the job as Archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese.

He made the decision to allow Sydney to play basketball with the boys.

But as time passed, he says he received more details about other matters involving the Phillips' at the school.

The Administration at St. Theresa made the decision to deny the applications for this school year.

In court, the Cardinal talked about this decision.

"I think it was early summer, I was approached by the superintendent of the schools with a recommendation, she had received a recommendation from the administrator at St. Theresa's asking that for the good of the community that the two children not be allowed to reenroll," the cardinal said.

Following Thursday's hearing, the parents were adamant about making sure their 12-year-old gets back in St. Theresa's but why?

"Because it's Sydney's 8th grade, and it's the only school she's ever been to and she really wants to graduate with her friends, she wants to go on to Hershey Park with her friends, the big class trip, she wants to go to the semi-formal dance with her friends, and she wants to graduate. It's the only school she's ever been to, and if that's what she wants to do, then I'll fight for her," Sydney's father said.
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