Princehoward Yee plays as varsity catcher on the Deering High School team last year. Home-schooled in the interim, he enrolled as a full-time student at Deering in January. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)

The father suing the Portland Public Schools in federal court says he never fully understood that his son could be ruled ineligible for varsity baseball after he was enrolled at Deering High School earlier this year.

“My son was assured that as long as he maintained attendance levels and had a sufficiently high GPA and paid for computers he had damaged (as a freshman), he could play sports at Deering,” Howard Yee said in an affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court. “But for these assurances, (he) would not have transferred to Deering.”

Deering Principal Gregg Palmer denied Princehoward Yee’s athletic transfer waiver – required by the Maine Principals’ Association – because he believed Yee was at Deering primarily for athletic purposes. Palmer informed Yee and his father of his decision on March 16, three days before the start of baseball practice. Princehoward Yee can still play junior varsity sports because MPA rules only apply to varsity athletics.

Palmer and Superintendent Xavier Botana are listed as co-defendants in the lawsuit filed by Howard Yee. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order to allow Princehoward Yee to attempt to make the varsity team.

A hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order will be held Wednesday in front of Chief Judge Nancy Torresen.

Princehoward Yee, 15, who goes by his legal middle name Barbecue, lives in Falmouth and was approved to enroll as a full-time student at Deering on Jan. 25. A promising baseball player, Yee had played on the Deering varsity as a freshman while taking two classes at the school. He had returned to being home-schooled at the start of the 2017-18 school year.


In the affidavit, Howard Yee contends he and his son thought any issues of athletic eligibility had been put to rest after a series of conversations with Botana in the months leading up to his son enrolling at Deering.

“Following these lengthy discussions with Defendant Botana, he was convinced, as I was, that the transfer was in (Barbecue’s) best interest as a student,” Howard Yee said in the affidavit. “Nothing Defendant Botana said or communicated gave me or my son any notice that a last-minute decision by Defendant Palmer or the MPA could pull the rug out from under his feet and severely, negatively impact his high school experience.”

The MPA athletic waiver is required when a student transfers without a corresponding change in residence. The student, parent(s) and both the sending and receiving principals must certify that a transfer is not primarily for athletic purposes.

Palmer was the principal at Falmouth High before this academic year. While being home-schooled, Princehoward Yee took classes at Falmouth in the beginning of his freshman year, then left because he was struggling academically.

“I don’t know how to put it other than there does seem to be some friction between Palmer and Howard Yee,” said Michael Waxman, the Yees’ attorney. “Not between Palmer and Barbecue. From what I understand, there is no one who doesn’t like Barbecue.”

Last Thursday, the defense outlined several reasons why Palmer, Botana and Deering Athletic Director Melanie Craig felt Yee was enrolled at Deering primarily for athletic reasons. The defendant affidavits also pointed to several instances when they claim the Yees were told that student enrollment and athletic eligibility are two different issues.

Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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