Bill to aid Episcopal High student fails

A bill that could help a student at Episcopal High School play football this fall as a 19-year-old failed in the state Senate on Monday.

The vote was 18-17, two votes shy of the minimum needed for final approval.

The proposal is Senate Bill 633 and is sponsored by state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

The legislation could get a second vote in the Senate.

The measure has sparked support from fellow students for Clement Mubungirwa, an Episcopal student who arrived in the United States with his family in 2007 after a journey that included time in a refugee camp in war-torn Uganda.

Mubungirwa, who was born in Congo Goma, will be 19 on July 7.

Rules of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association prohibit students from playing sports if they turn 19 before Sept. 1.

Claitor’s bill would require third-party arbitration on eligibility issues.

“Rich kids can sue when they get a finding that does not suit them,” he told colleagues.

Backers say the case is highly unusual and warrants scrutiny by reviewers outside of the LHSAA.

Officials of the LHSAA oppose the proposal and said earlier this month that the change could pave the way for injuries on the football field and lawsuits.