The Chino Valley Unified School District has settled a lawsuit that accused Chino Hills Ayala High with fostering a racially hostile environment within its basketball program, the second such case to be settled before it went to trial.
Without conceding any wrongdoing, Chino Valley Unified will pay $75,000 to former Ayala basketball player Henry Frierson and his mother, Sherelle Johnson.
Ron Vera, the general counsel for the district, said the district reached the agreement because it would cost less to settle than to pay for legal fees.
The plaintiffs were said to be seeking an award near $500,000 as their case headed to court, but after the first day of proceedings at federal court in Los Angeles, the district offered to settle for the reduced figure.
Frierson, who is African American, and his mother believe he saw limited playing time as a guard in 1996-97 because of favoritism displayed by then coach Roger McCoy, whose son, Marc, was also a guard. Marc McCoy is white.
The lawsuit also contended that district officials were slow to react to racially charged incidents, including a "White's Only" message painted over a drinking fountain. In addition, coaches retaliated against players who mentioned discrimination, the suit alleged.
Previously, the district settled a case with Gloria Gulliford, the mother of another former Ayala basketball player, for $40,000, also an agreement in which the district admitted no liability.
Several coaches and staff members from Ayala recently pleaded with board members not to repeat that action.
"I think that's going to start the line; get in line and sue the school if you want," former Ayala athletic director Laing Stevens said. "It's setting a precedent that, nowadays, people who don't like what's going on with their team can sue. Coaching's tough enough."