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Hard ball ban was misunderstanding, trustee says

Students at Earl Beatty Public School in Toronto are no longer allowed to use hard soccer balls on the school's playground.

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

School officials met with parents at Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School Monday night to hash out the lifting of a controversial ban on hard balls on school grounds.

The ban was put into place after two incidents earlier this month: A parent suffered a concussion after being hit in the neck with a soccer ball and a group of students refused to stop their soccer game when asked to by staff. The school's principal, Alicia Fernandez, sent a letter home to parents, saying soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs and tennis balls were no longer allowed at the school.

The ban raised controversy among parents, became comedic fodder for Saturday Night Live and even had Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty joke that the last time he checked, hard balls weren't registered weapons.

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Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher said Monday night that the ban was all a misunderstanding, sparked by the wording of the principal's letter.

"Did anyone read the school code of conduct? It said no hard balls in the school grounds and it's been that way at the school for at least 10 years," Ms. Cary-Meagher said after a meeting with parents at the Toronto school. "I think what she [the principal]should have done was simply reinforce the code of conduct against hard balls. It was the rule at the school all the time."

Hard balls were always allowed in the school gym during physical education classes, Ms. Cary-Meagher added.

Monday's meeting concluded with some suggestions from parents to reorganize the cramped conditions in the school playground, including moving the hockey nets away from school doors and outdoor seating away from basketball nets.

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