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Mandate Offers Students With Disabilities Shot At School Sports

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Maryland schools are giving students with disabilities unique new access to the world of school sports, thanks to a first-of-its-kind law.

Under the Fitness and Athletic Equity Act for Students with Disabilities passed in 2008, Maryland public schools are required to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to try out and play on mainstream school sports teams. School staff must provide accommodations for these students to participate so long as the alterations don’t fundamentally change the game.

Though schools aren’t required to comply until July 2011, many have already begun offering opportunities to special education students through so-called corollary leagues. This spring high schoolers are playing softball in the new leagues, which serve as counterparts to traditional school varsity and JV programs. Most students playing corollary softball have disabilities, but many of the teams allow typically developing students to participate so-long as they have not played the sport for one of their high school’s more competitive squads.

For special needs students, the new teams offer a unique school opportunity many thought they would never get to enjoy. Participants have a range of disabilities, everything from behavioral problems to physical impairments and as new sports are added and people become more familiar with the leagues the teams are expected to grow, reports The Washington Post. To read more click here.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. twinkie1cat says:

    There is no excuse why sports participation has not been the norm. High school athletics rules have caused many problems but we must remember that an IEP takes precedence over all other regulations and a teacher who is an advocate can make the powers that be see that. If the disabled person can keep up with accommodations that don’t give them an unfair advantage, they should be free to participate.

    Yet this has always been an issue and up to the school. A friend who is MID played high school football. Another who is MID was Most Valuable Player on his baseball team, hitting the longest homerun in the history of his school. He was also being looked at by the Atlanta Braves. At the same school, however, a few years before, a blind kid was denied a spot on the track team because he needed to run in an outside lane. The coaches did not want to be bothered. He had Olympic type skills. He also played in the marching band. The other kids figured out a way to keep him in formation. The Vision Resource Teacher, also visually impaired, showed him how to sue the school under Section 504. He lost his coaching supplement, however, for causing trouble and could not manage to get into administration after that until he moved down to regular education. This, unfortunately soured the boy’s attitude so he dropped out, got his GED and went to a college in another state on a scholarship.

    The two who were MID loved sports just for the love of them and also played in SPECIAL OLYMPICS, mostly basketball. One is now about 35 and the other 30.

    It has always been up to good special educators to get our children into regular programs where they can excell or even just benefit. I am glad to see a law.

    On the other hand, there is no reason to force special needs kids into regular PE for the sake of inclusion, unless they can participate effectively and want to do it. PE tends to be a dumping ground for self contained students who need Adapted PE and don’t want to be in regular classes. Other electives can be much more appropriate and should be explored thoroughly.

  2. Shellie Moore says:

    Is this true only for Maryland Schools or is this true for all schools in the US?

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