District says it won't pay claim

Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees refused this week to pay more than $28,000 to a Costa Mesa High School athlete who sustained four broken front teeth during what has been characterized as a friendly scuffle with a teammate.

The student's mother filed a claim against the district June 18, saying varsity baseball coach Paul Grady should have paid closer attention to his team at the time of the incident.

Trustees voted unanimously to reject the request Tuesday night, per district staff's recommendation, and did not discuss it during the meeting.

The $28,042 requested was for dental work, some of which can't be performed until after the student's braces are removed, according to the claim.

The student, whose name has not been released, stated that after tackling a teammate, he was pushed onto a bag containing a baseball, which broke his teeth, according to the claim.

The incident, as described in a statement attached to the claim, occurred after an April 12 baseball game against Godinez Fundamental High School in Santa Ana. The student realized he didn't have his baseball glove when he got on the bus after the game and suspected one of his teammates had taken it.

"The reason why I suspected this was because we have a game that we play with each other that when you leave your glove behind and someone else picks it up, you give that person a Gatorade in exchange for your glove," he wrote.

The student figured out who took his glove and it was returned to him. Shortly after setting the glove next to his bag, it disappeared again, according to the claim.

As the players were walking back to the clubhouse, the student approached one of his teammates and asked for his glove a second time. When the teammate refused, the student tackled him "only in fun," he wrote.

"After finding my glove on him, I realized then that I had accidentally knocked the wind out of him," he wrote.

As other players rushed over, the student was pushed face-first onto the athletic bag containing the baseball, breaking four of his teeth.

A parent showed up just as the fight broke up, according to the claim.

The student wrote that Grady was in his classroom at the time but returned to the scene and offered the student a ride to the emergency room. The teen declined because his brother was on his way.

Grady did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

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