Woodrow Wilson High School's football team was disqualified from this week's Turkey Bowl after D.C. school officials learned one of the players lives in Maryland.
School officials first started looking into the residency of Nico Jaleel Robinson, a 17-year-old Greenbelt resident, after he was arrested for armed robbery at his home in Maryland last month, according to a source familiar with the case. The teen, whose residency makes him ineligible for sports in D.C. public schools, played in two league games that helped propel Wilson's team to the finals.
D.C. schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said in a statement that the school had to forfeit the two games, making it "ineligible for the playoffs and the Turkey Bowl."
"While DCPS regrets any confusion or frustration this may cause, it is important to ensure the integrity and fairness of the game," she stated.
The Turkey Bowl is a more-than-40-year-old tradition in the District, where the city's best teams from the west and east battle it out on Thanksgiving Day. Thousands of students, family members, and football fans have turned out to cheer on the teams.
The Woodrow Wilson Tigers were scheduled to play reigning champion Dunbar High School. After the disqualification, Anacostia High School is now set to play Dunbar for the title.
Ms. Salmanowitz said that by the end of last week, the school system had confirmed the teenager did not live within district lines, but rather 13 miles away.
Peter Cahall, the principal of the high school, sent a letter to parents stating he did not accept the decision of the school system. First reported by WTOP, the letter states there was no intention to break school regulations and he would be appealing the ruling, but if "due process and the rules are applied fairly and consistently, I can and will accept and support any decision for or against us."
Mr. Robinson, who lives in the 9600 block of Edmonston Road, according to Maryland court records, was arrested in mid-October by Prince George's County police on charges related to string of robberies in College Park.
The robberies occurred within an hour of each other on Oct. 10, according to the Prince George's County police blog. The first robbery happened at about 7:30 p.m. in the 9100 block of Baltimore Avenue, when a black male wearing a black hoodie pulled a gun on a male University of Maryland student.
About an hour later and several blocks down from the first robbery, the same suspect attempted to rob another male University of Maryland student.
Five minutes later, the hooded man successfully robbed a female university student in the same block.
Mr. Robinson was arrested four days later, according to the news blog. Police did not elaborate on the arrest, but stated several items found in his home were related to the robberies.
The teenager was charged with one count of armed robbery, three counts of second-degree assault, as well as several charges relating to theft, and possession of a gun. Police do not normally release the names of juveniles that have been arrested, but Mr. Robinson has been charged as an adult.
A phone number in court records for the address for Mr. Robinson was routed to Berwyn Presbyterian Church in Berwyn Heights.
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