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Valley Club to file for bankruptcy

Minority kids were kept from swimming there.

The Valley Club apparently plans to put itself out of business.

The community swimming pool in Huntingdon Valley gained national notoriety during the summer amid allegations that racism was behind its decision to expel a group of minority children from swimming at the club.

The board voted, 5-1, last week to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to an e-mail to members by board president John Duesler.

The Philadelphia Daily News quoted Duesler as writing: "While many will point towards our legal situation and negative media exposure this summer as the reason, the truth is that the club has struggled to stay out of the red for at least the last decade. . . . And our current debt from this year's operations and legal fees now exceeds $100,000."

Duesler said last night: "I won't be making any further comment about this."

Other club members said they, too, had no comment.

To generate revenue, leaders invited children from the Creative Steps Summer Day Camp in Northeast Philadelphia to use the pool. But after 56 children made their initial visit June 29, some club members complained, with one allegedly asking why "black kids" were there. Duesler refunded the club's $1,950 fee and ended the arrangement.

The state Human Relations Commission in September found probable cause for race discrimination, and ordered a $50,000 civil penalty.

The Justice Department is also investigating.

The club has been sued by one parent and faces another suit. Brian Mildenberg, an attorney for the children, told the Associated Press that the bankruptcy court would decide whether to allow any lawsuits to proceed.