Students with disabilities must be given a “fair shot” to play on traditional sports leagues, according to a new decision by the Education Department. If a child with disabilities cannot participate in a traditional sports league with “reasonable modifications” being made, a league for the child must be created.
The Education Department ruling indicates that accommodations which give the disabled student an advantage or fundamentally change the sport are required, NBC News notes. If a student cannot play on a traditional athletic league, the parallel sports league created must be comparable to existing programs, according to The Blaze.
Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan had this to say about the new sports ruling:
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion, and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court.”
Activists for students with disabilities count the new Education Department sports ruling as a solid victory. Some groups representing children with disabilities have been fighting for the change for nearly a decade.
Those not necessarily opposed to students with disabilities participating in sports are still concerned about the fallout from the ruling. Title IX (the equal access to sports for girls and women) law is being cited as an example of fiscal woes associated with the practical application of the Education Department ruling.
When Title IX became law in the 1970s, budget restrains prompted many schools to cut sports programs for boys to remain in compliance with the mandate. The Education Department release also notes that the ruling does not guarantee a student with disabilities a position on a competitive sports team.
The civil rights arm of the Education Department cited the both the Rehabilitation Act and Individuals With Disabilities Education Act in the new dictate.
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