On April 29, 2019, Yaida O. Ford, will serve as first chair in a jury trial against Paul Public Charter School, a DC-area charter school that serves low-income middle and high school students. Ms. Ford filed the lawsuit against Paul on October 6, 2016 on behalf of plaintiff Justin Route and two other plaintiffs. Route attended middle school at Paul PCS and ultimately entered Coolidge Senior High School as a 9th grade student where he became a highly touted basketball player in the DC Interscholastic Athletics Association (DCIAA). In 2015, DCIAA determined that Route was ineligible to play basketball during his senior year at Coolidge. DCIAA’s basis for the determination was that Route’s middle school transcripts from Paul PCS were falsified to make it look like he never attended the 9th grade at Paul PCS, when according to Paul’s CEO Jami Dunham, Route did attend the 9th grade at Paul and then enrolled the following year as a 9th grader at Coolidge so that he could get an additional year of eligibility to play basketball.
Route’s lawsuit alleges that Paul PCS’ CEO, Jami Dunham, lied to athletic officials in DC and Maryland when she claimed that neither she nor any authorized staff at Paul PCS falsified Justin’s transcripts. Dunham, according to the suit, suggested to DCIAA investigators that unauthorized personnel, in conjunction with the head coach of Coolidge’s Varsity Boys’ Basketball team, falsified Justin’s transcripts and provided them to Route’s mother for the purpose of getting him an additional year of eligibility. Because of Dunham’s remarks to investigators, DCIAA deemed Route ineligible to play basketball in the midst of a heavy recruiting period.
As a result of the highly publicized scandal, at least 10 Division 1 schools withdrew verbal scholarship offers that they had all previously extended to Route. Route maintains that Paul PCS is responsible for falsifying his records and plans to put on evidence that Paul had a rampant culture of grade falsification and data tampering under Dunham’s leadership. Route’s claims against Dunham and Paul PCS include defamation and fraudulent misrepresentation. Trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on April 29, 2019 before Judge Heidi Pasichow of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The matter is captioned Justin Route, et al. vs. Paul Public Charter School, et al.