- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A discrimination lawsuit has been filed against a suburban Philadelphia swim club that canceled the pool memberships of dozens of minority children.

The lawsuit alleges that The Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley discriminated against the children on the basis of race.

The suit, filed in federal court on Friday, demands unspecified damages on behalf of several unnamed children and parents. Two attorneys are seeking class-action status for a group that could number 60 children and 120 parents.

Attorney Brian R. Mildenberg said the swim club has offered to let the children back to the pool, but that he and his clients are moving forward with the suit for now.

“We commend the club for making that offer,” he said at a news conference Monday. “If (the parents are) satisfied with that offer, then we’d be prepared to recommend to withdraw the lawsuit.”

But he added that at least one parent wanted to pursue the lawsuit regardless.

The Creative Steps camp had arranged for 65 mostly black and Hispanic children to swim each Monday afternoon at the gated Huntingdon Valley club, which is on a leafy hillside in a village straddling two overwhelmingly white townships.

But after the group arrived June 29, camp director Alethea Wright said, several children reported hearing racial comments and some swim club members pulled their children out of the pool.

The camp’s $1,950 was refunded a few days later.

The president of the swim club’s board of directors, John Duesler, has said the decision was made because there were too many children in the pool and the situation was unsafe, not because of racial concerns. No one answered the telephone at the club Monday and the voicemail box was full.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is investigating.

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