Loudoun County high school senior denied waiver to play lacrosse in latest court opinion

The battle continues between two Loudoun County parents and the school board. It’s all over their daughter’s eligibility to play lacrosse during her senior year. 

Lily Sigler transferred to Independence High School for the remainder of the 2023-2024 school year after experiencing bullying at her old school. She was granted special permission to do so to benefit her mental health but has since been denied a waiver to play lacrosse from the Virginia High School League (VHSL), which is the sanctioning organization for interscholastic athletic competition among public high schools in Virginia.

Mom Lauren Sigler said the waiver has been repeatedly denied and the family has gotten inconsistent reasons. 

In the Loudoun County Public Schools Student Activities Handbook, there is a portion on transfer students stating "a waiver may be considered for transfers that are required or mandated by the school system or are for the welfare of the student, not for athletic or activity reasons."

"That’s Lily’s exact situation," Sigler said, referring to the ‘welfare of the student’. "We were told in her waiver hearing, you can only have the waiver if the county moves you. So, they confirmed that if it’s a disciplinary issue that arises with a student. For the safety of the other students, that student is moved, that person can still participate in their activities. Lily cannot, because she moved for her mental health. Then they told us they would lose their VHSL membership if they gave Lily a waiver and opened such a precedent that mental health was the reason to participate in activities at a new school. Now, they’re saying no, no, no, it’s undue hardship. We only apply undue hardship to waivers. Which is it? As a constituent, as a resident of this county, how am I supposed to make decisions for my child if you can’t follow your own stated policies?"

The latest court opinion issued Monday night was not in this family’s favor. A judge has denied the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that they were hoping would allow their daughter to try out for the team. 

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In the opinion, the judge listed four main factors, including irreparable harm. The judge said Lily would not suffer from irreparable harm if she did not play on her school’s team. She can still play on a club or recreational team but her parents say this about more than just lacrosse — it’s about the school system following its own policies.

"If you hear our story, this isn’t about Lily playing lacrosse. Your elected officials aren’t doing their jobs. They’re hiding behind lawsuits. This is a group of people that had an opportunity to show their constituents that they really did believe in transparency, that they really did believe the student’s mental health was important. Not just talk about it. Actually, do something. One of the tenets of Loudoun County is to empower students. All they have done is empower bullies," she said.

Lily’s mom is questioning why mental health wouldn’t be considered as welfare. She says the family plans to speak at a board hearing on the matter.

"This will be our fourth time. It is kind of like speaking to a black hole that won’t respond to you but we don’t have much else to do. One of the reasons we keep going back to the school board is that it’s an opportunity for the public to hear what their elected officials are doing," she said. 

FOX 5 reached out to LCPS for a comment regarding the judge’s opinion. In a statement, LCPS said:

"While the school division will not remark on this specific case, we hope everyone will come to understand that decisions were made in accordance to policy and the law. 

One of a school division’s greatest responsibilities and priorities is student confidentiality. We recognize how difficult it can be when others disclose personal or privileged information to the public, thereby creating an expectation for a response from the school division. Despite this expectation, LCPS cannot let that impact our commitment to student privacy. 

LCPS will continue working relentlessly to build and maintain the trust and confidence of the entire community by adhering to our mission, vision and core values."