August 14, 2017

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A judge in New Jersey has refused to overturn a Roman Catholic school's decision to deny re-enrollment to two sisters after a dispute over one of them wanting to play on the boys basketball team.

''The court does not have the authority to meddle in this decision,'' Superior Court Judge Donald Kessler said in his ruling on Monday.

Kessler lashed out at the girls' parents for making the dispute public, and said the family did not cite any law that would have allowed the court to interfere with the religious school's decision.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin testified that he decided not to allow 13-year-old Sydney Phillips and her younger sister, Kaitlyn, to re-enroll because their parents' behavior was not in the best interest of St. Theresa School in Kenilworth.

The dispute began when Sydney Phillips was not allowed to play on the boys basketball team.

When asked about the decision, the girls' father, Scott Phillips, said he disagreed with the judge.

''It's a sad day to be a Catholic,'' Phillips told NJ.com. ''I disagree with what he (Kessler) said. I disagree with the way he characterized it.''

The father's lawyer said they have not decided if they will appeal.

The archdiocese issued a statement to NJ.com after the ruling saying it was grateful for the decision, but added that church officials wish ''no ill will'' for the family.

''It is our hope that the parents will learn from this experience as they seek alternative venues for their children's education,'' church officials said.

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