PITTSTON, Pa. -- Parents of a high school basketball star pulled their daughter out of school this year claiming she was the victim of bullying.
She switched schools, but her family and lawyer claim she's being victimized again because she's not allowed to play on her new school's team.
The PIAA, the state's governing body for high school athletics, toughened its rules this year when a star basketball player from Virginia transferred to a school in Philadelphia just in time for the state playoffs.
Leah Hodick of Pittston switched schools, but her parents say their daughter's case is different and should be treated differently.
Hodick practices with her new teammates on the Riverside High School basketball team in Taylor, and her coach calls her one of the best players on the court.
Hodick can practice, but when the actual games begin, she can only be a spectator.
"We were in shock. I never, never would have expected this," said Leah's mother Annette Hodick.
Annette says Leah transferred to Riverside from Pittston Area this summer.
The Hodick family attorney says 26 student-athletes in the northeastern Pennsylvania region switched schools, but Leah is the only one the PIAA forced to sit out the entire year.
"A poor example, in my opinion, to make an example out of this particular student-athlete," said the family's attorney Corrine Theil.
The PIAA regional chairman has not returned our calls to comment on the matter.
Theil says the PIAA failed to consider why parents and doctors say Leah Hodick wanted to switch schools.
"Gross misconduct, what I would equate to harassment and bullying that Leah and other players have experienced," said Theil.
"We were afraid that she was going to go into a depression," said Leah's father Ken Hodick.
"Her demeanor, she was sleepless, a lot of anxiety. I mean, they were classical depression symptoms," Annette said.
Leah chose to transfer to Riverside, just a 15-minute drive away.
The Hodicks are paying $13,000 for out-of-district tuition.
"This wasn't for athletic purposes. This was mental and emotional, trying to address her mental and emotional wellbeing," Ken Hodick said.
Pittston Area High School officials would not talk on camera but privately tell Newswatch 16 the school reviewed the girls' basketball program. They say the review found the basketball coach a tough disciplinarian, but it did not find evidence of misconduct or bullying.
The Hodicks say Leah is now thriving in the classroom at Riverside. She has been an honor roll student throughout high school.
Leah's thriving on the basketball court, too, but only at practice.
Her parents hope an appeal to the PIAA gets Leah off the sidelines and into the games.
"There should be no question in my mind that that should be overturned," Annette said.
The PIAA will hear the Hodicks' appeal on Wednesday. The Hodicks hope their daughter gets the same treatment as other student-athletes who switch schools. Most are forced to sit for three weeks, not the entire season.