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Originally published January 15, 2009 at 2:48 PM | Page modified January 15, 2009 at 7:02 PM

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Agreement allows Wroten to stay at Garfield

The Seattle School District and the family of Garfield sophomore Tony Wroten Jr. agreed to a settlement Thursday afternoon that will allow Wroten to remain at Garfield. The 6-foot-5 guard is one of the top basketball players in the state, but had been removed from school by the district and later temporarily reinstated by court order.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seattle School District and the family of Garfield sophomore Tony Wroten found peace on Thursday.

The parties agreed to a settlement that allows Wroten, one of the country's premier basketball prospects, to remain at Garfield. His family will drop its lawsuit against the school district.

"For him, he never wanted to be anywhere else," Wroten's father, Tony Wroten Sr., said. "All he wants to do is go to school ... and play basketball. To have all that behind him is a relief beyond words for me right now."

The Wrotens provided evidence that demonstrated that, in the past month, the family was complying with the residency rules.

"The district believes that with the new information, and the family's commitment to provide follow-up information, that any concerns about residency have been resolved at this time," district spokesman David Tucker said.

The settlement ends the controversial 41-day limbo regarding Wroten's academic and residency status, which clouded the season for Wroten and Garfield, ranked first in Class 4A.

"At times, it looked kind of bleak, but we were always optimistic," Wroten Sr. said.

Since the district removed Wroten from Garfield on Dec. 5 following a residency investigation, a judge twice ruled on a temporary restraining order allowing him back into Garfield.

Another hearing, which the settlement has canceled, had been scheduled for Wednesday.

But before the case could go before a judge again, the Wrotens and the district reached the settlement in a case that goes back to last September. Wroten was living in Renton and was denied nonresident enrollment to Garfield. After the family appealed, the school district agreed to allow Wroten into Garfield if the family moved into Seattle.

The initial hurdle to Thursday's settlement, Tucker said, was that the Wrotens acknowledge they had not been in full compliance with the residency requirements of that September agreement — even if the family had believed at the time they were acting within the rules.

Wroten Sr. said it was "a misunderstanding," one that was at the heart of the dispute between the parties. As the rest of his family moved from Renton to Seattle, Wroten Sr. was not aware that the September agreement required that he, too, make the Seattle home his primary residence.

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Lawyers for the Wroten family intended to argue that by requiring the entire family live in the Seattle residence, the school district was requiring more of the Wrotens than any other family.

Space in Garfield's sophomore class opened during the winter break, which Tucker said allowed the district to place Wroten back into Garfield without giving him preferential treatment over any other Seattle residents.

According to the settlement, the Wrotens have 45 days to find their own residence — they currently live with a landlord — in the district, and then they will need to show that the entire family lives there as its primary residence.

Wroten, one of the country's top-rated sophomores, has played in Garfield's past five games, all wins. But the 6-foot-5 guard sprained his ankle Tuesday, and his father said it's uncertain whether he will be able to play Monday against Franklin, Garfield's top rival and the No. 1 team in Class 3A.

Tom Wyrwich: 206-515-5653 or twyrwich@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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