Now that I am beginning to attend school evaluation meetings for my patients that are transitioning into the school therapy system, I am realizing how many rules and rights parents need to know about in order to ensure their children have equal access.
Below is a news article posted last week that I wanted to share with you all. Here are the highlights from the article:
Here is a helpful website for parents/therapists looking to stay on top of school law issues. This site also discussed the new rule regarding equal access for students with disabilities.
White House: Schools must open sports to disabled
The Obama administration for the first time is telling school districts across the USA that they must give disabled students equal access to extracurricular sports, a move that advocates say has been years in the making.
In a letter to schools due out Friday, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter of the Department of Education says schools should provide “reasonable modifications” to allow disabled students to participate – for instance, providing a deaf track athlete with a flashing light that goes off simultaneously with the starter pistol that others hear.
He said schools don’t have to radically alter games or stop choosing the most qualified athletes for competitive teams. They can look to “allied” or “unified” sports teams, in which students with disabilities participate with students without them. Schools can’t deny a disabled student a slot on a sports team because a coach believes he can’t compete.
Schools that don’t comply risk losing federal funding, but civil rights cases rarely get that far.
“It’s really affording them access to terrific social situations that will hopefully break down some of the barriers and discrimination we’ve seen in the past,” said Lindsay Jones of the Council for Exceptional Children, a national advocacy group.
She and Bauer said a key development was the case of Tatyana McFadden, a Maryland wheelchair athlete who competed in the 2004 Paralympics games in Athens but who had to file a lawsuit to get a spot on her high school track team.
Bauer said many disabled students, frustrated at the lack of opportunities in school, join private after-school sports clubs. “Parents are coming to them saying, ‘My kid doesn’t have any opportunity in the schools to participate in sports or to compete, so we come here to do this.’ That’s what Tatyana was doing. She was basically treated as sort of an add-on, and she didn’t like that – and she knew how good she was.”