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Swim Club Accused of Discrimination Against Black Kids

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Fox News Philly: Officials at a daycare accuse a club in Montgomery County, PA, of discriminating against the minority kids in their program.

The Valley Club
They're inner city children spending the summer in the basement of a Philadelphia elementary school.

But every Monday afternoon, they were supposed to get a welcome break at the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, where they'd get to swim for an hour and a half.

But after only one Monday, the plan derailed.

"I get a phone call from the board chair saying, you're no longer going to be able to swim here," Alethea Wright of Creative Steps, Inc.

She says the board president of the Valley Club didn't explain why. But she says the reason was obvious to her.

"The other members were taking their children out while our children were there swimming," Wright said.

But she couldn't ignore it after several black children in her daycare program allegedly overheard a white mother complaining.

The daycare had paid for the entire summer upfront, but they got their check for $1,950 back in full.

The president of the Valley Club, John Duesler, told Fox 29 by phone the club "underestimated the impact the children would have." He said they "fundamentally changed the atmosphere" at the pool.

But Duesler insisted race "had nothing to do with the decision" to rescind the agreement. He did admit several club members had complained, but insisted none of those complaints involved race.

The head of the daycare isn't convinced.

"If the children didn't misbehave, we paid our membership in full, here's the check to prove it, what else could it be? We were the only minorities there," Wright said.

The club president said allowing daycares at the pool was an "experiment" that didn't work out.

He said other programs were disinvited as well. One daycare counselor told us she just didn't expect this to happen in 2009, with a black president in the oval office.

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous July 9, 2009, 5:07 PM

Those rich people didn’t want a ghetto pool.

Beth July 9, 2009, 6:42 PM

We did the pool membership thing when I was a kid. I remember that people would complain about too many kids in the pool if there were more than five kids in the water. There are some “adults” who simply cannot handle large groups of children enjoying themselves in the water no matter how well behaved they are.

Could it be about race? Absolutely.

Could it also be that the person who agreed to this didn’t realize how upset paying members would get when there was a sudden influx of a lot of kids in the pool? Maybe.

Combination of the two, most likely. As in someone let their racism show while raising what would otherwise be a reasonable, if awkward, complaint.

Kristen July 9, 2009, 7:41 PM

I’m sorry but I DO NOT believe that this was because of race. I think that when you have 65 children in a pool at one time, it gets hectic and I wouldn’t want my kids playing in a pool that had that many children. PLUS all of these kids were from a daycare, well daycares are pretty understaffed and you can’t watch 65 kids with just a hand full of adults. This article is misleading and purposfully trying to get a rise out of people. I read the COMPLETE article on msnbc and it quoted that 2 other NONE minority day camps in the past had been asked to leave for the exact same reason, it’s called overcrowding. If I’m paying a private membership to a pool I don’t want 65 kids in that pool no matter what color they are.

Rachel July 10, 2009, 9:20 AM

I agree with Kristen. Our local pool is overrun sometimes with daycares and daycamps. They’re not adequately supervised - just left to run amok. Several times I’ve found myself having to correct these children because they’re playing in such a way that they could injure themselves or others (none of their chaperones seem to be around). Kids should visit pools and waterparks with their parents, not with big groups of ill-supervised children in a daycare/daycamp setting.

Dawn July 10, 2009, 10:00 AM

Oh give me a break … the president of the pool club said the kids changed the “complexion” of the club. THIS IS RACISM, plain and simple. I am a white woman who is OUTRAGED that this kind of thing still goes on in 2009. I plan to call this club later today and give them a piece of my mind! They should be ashamed of themselves.

j July 10, 2009, 1:35 PM

Dawn, it did not say complexion, it said atmosphere. That could mean from calm and relaxing to unruly and hectic. I have left a pool when a large group of kids with a small number of adults arrive. It makes it harder to watch your kids in all the chaos.

Dawn July 10, 2009, 5:19 PM

To J … and I quote … “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement.

LEE July 21, 2009, 8:54 PM

God bless those children. God Bless the owner of the swim club and forgive him/her for they know not what they do. Lastly I pray that the Lord will bring about change in our hearts, and teach us to love our nieghbors as we love ourselves. God Jesus name..amen

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