CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A Montgomery County judge has granted a temporary restraining order that allows the children of Michael and Stacey Fair to return to Clarksville High and Richview Middle schools.
Circuit Court Judge William Goodman granted that restraining order Tuesday. Fair family attorney Mark Olson sent a copy of the restraining order to the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
“Obviously we’re thrilled and relieved about it,” Stacey Fair told The Leaf-Chronicle Wednesday morning. “I think our kids are more excited because they were ready to go back to school. It’s been a while.”
The Fair family filed a lawsuit against CMCSS last week after the school system determined that Michael Fair Jr. and his siblings were attending school out of zone. The school system’s investigation resulted in the TSSAA ruling that Michael Jr., a member of CHS’ football team, was ineligible for athletics. That forced a forfeiture of five of Clarksville’s five football victories and eliminated the Wildcats from the Class 5A postseason.
Michael Jr. and his sister Kierstynn returned to Clarksville High while Matthew Fair is back at Richview after all three missed more than two weeks of school.
“The last time they were in school was the Friday before fall break,” Stacey Fair said. “I had to fill out some paper work (Wednesday morning) but they’re back.”
The school system responded early Wednesday afternoon through its attorney Katherine Olita.
“This order is not a decision on the merits of the case and was issued without notice to the School System,” Olita said. “All parties agree that it is in the best interests of the students to be in school. The School System will present facts addressing the allegations of the Petition at the hearing of this matter.”
In an emailed statement to The Leaf-Chronicle Wednesday, CMCSS stated “the students’ parents received letters advising them to enroll their students at their zoned schools and those schools were prepared to accept the students’ enrollment immediately. However, the students were never enrolled in the different attendance zone and the students have not attended school since Oct. 9.”
Olson said he hopes to hear soon from the TSSAA regarding a possible reinstatement of Michael Fair Jr.’s eligibility status. Under current TSSAA rules, the Clarksville High junior is not allowed to play athletics for a 12-month period that would last at more than a month into his senior year.
“Right now we’re just pleased that the kids are back in school,” Olson said. “They are back in their district, although that could change down the road.”
However, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress told The Leaf-Chronicle Wednesday afternoon that the restraining order has no bearing on its ineligibility ruling.
“That doesn’t affect us,” Childress said. “What we ruled on, in terms of the player’s eligibility, was based on the information provided to us by the Clarksville High administration when they self-reported it. So for us to overturn the player’s ineligibilty status, Clarksville High would have to report to us that this was a mistake. We would need to hear from the school’s administration.”
Although the restraining order has been granted, there has yet to be a resolution as to the lawsuit. A hearing has been set Nov. 10 in circuit court in Robertson County that will revisit the restraining order.
Reach Prep writer George Robinson at 931-245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.