Man, 25, Poses as High School Student to Play Basketball

Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley claimed to be a displaced Hurricane Harvey refugee and enrolled as a freshman student

A 25-year-old man was arrested after allegedly posing as a high school student in a Dallas Independent School District campus so he could compete in high school basketball, according to Texas officials. Now the University Interscholastic League, UIL, is monitoring the situation.

Dallas ISD police said Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley claimed to be a displaced Hurricane Harvey evacuee and enrolled as a freshman student at Skyline High School in August under the name Rashun Richardson. Federal law exempts people who claim to be homeless or an evacuee due to a natural disaster from requiring documents they might not have.

Richardson ISD officials confirmed the man also enrolled in classes at Richardson High School in October for one day. District officials say he did not give a reason for withdrawing one day after enrolling.

DISD says Gilstrap-Portley ended up at Hillcrest High School and joined the varsity basketball team there.

A UIL spokesperson said the UIL is aware of Gilstrap-Portley playing during the basketball season and the minimum penalty for using ineligble players is forfeiture of the games where the player participated.

A woman who has a 14 year old daughter at Hillcrest High School told NBC 5 Gilstrap-Portley dated the young girl earlier this year. The woman asked NBC 5 not to make her name public. She says her daughter met Gilstrap-Portley at school in January. Her daughter told her they've kissed, but had no other sexual contact.

She says police have been in touch with her family and detectives told her they are investigating the suspect's activities over the nine months he allegedly posed as a high school student. 

Hillcrest High School Principal Bayer said he and staff believed the suspect's story about being a hurricane evacuee, homeless with an absentee mother and younger siblings to care for. He said Gilstrap-Portley appeared to be 17. He was a starter on the basketball team but didn't stick out in ability over the younger students.

"He was a good player, but didn't stick out as being completely head and shoulders above everyone else," said Bayer when asked if there were any red flags.

"Other than him being a very quiet, reserved young man, polite," he said. "Looking back on that now, it makes sense to me that maybe he was trying not to be noticed or bring attention to himself."

He said he's since learned from police that the suspect has a child and girlfriend. Bayer says they came to basketball games, but staff believed the woman and child were a sister and nephew of the suspect.

Bayer said Gilstrap-Portley couldn't show transcripts or school records other than proof of withdrawal from Skyline High School. Bayer said Gilstrap-Portley did provide record of immunization and a physical. Bayer said the records listed the name Rashun Richardson and the same date of birth given when Gilstrap-Portley enrolled.

“For him to take advantage of the Harvey situation and then the homeless laws and get himself in front of our students, it is frustrating,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. 

It was revealed that Gilstrap-Portley, who once played basketball at North Mesquite High School and at Dallas Christian College, was an imposter when one of his former basketball coaches spotted him at a basketball tournament on April 30, district officials said.

North Mesquite Head Basketball Coach Phillip Randall told NBC DFW that he was not the one who spotted Gilstrap-Portley, but he did tip off Hillcrest High School after he was informed.

"He was an average player and a good kid, I'm surprised," Randall said. 

Gilstrap-Portley played for Randall until 2011 when he graduated from North Mesquite. Seven years later, he was still playing high school basketball and, according to Hinojosa, who had watched Gilstrap-Portley play at a playoff game, "he didn’t look any different than the other students."

Hinojosa apologized to the parents of students in the district and vowed to "follow better protocals to try and prevent this from happpening."

"You send your kid to be safe at school and to participate in extracurricular activities and this should not happen,” Hinojosa added.

Gilstrap-Portley was arrested over the weekend on charges of tampering with government records, but has since bonded out of jail. 

Hillcrest High School sent the below letter to parents on Monday.

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Hillcrest High School 5 15[1] (Text)
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