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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Group Rescinds Ban on Coach in Wheelchair

May 04, 1999

WESTMINSTER — A Westminster High School baseball coach who sued state and local athletic organizations for banning him from the field because of his wheelchair will be allowed to stay on the field for the remainder of the baseball season.

Victor Barrios, 26, had sought a temporary restraining order against the California Interscholastic Federation and the Orange County Baseball Officials Assn., which had kept him off the field for most of the season because of what they said were safety concerns.

His banishment to the dugout outraged advocates for the disabled.

Attorneys for Barrios and the athletic organizations came to an accord last week during a closed-door hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Barrios, a paraplegic, had been the third base coach for the Westminster Lions freshman baseball team for the last four years, but this year the federation said a rule prohibiting umpires from using wheelchairs on the field also applied to Barrios.

The new settlement is specific to Barrios and does not change the federation policy's wider ban. Still, Barrios said he hopes to see more changes in the future.

"This is a start and that's the key,' Barrios said. "But I hope it opens up equal rights for everyone in a wheelchair."

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