HOLD FOR RELEASE AT 12:01 A.M. EST ON FRIDAY, JAN. 25, 2013 ** This photo provided by Lisa Followay shows Casey Followay competing in the the USATF Junior Olympics in Maryland on July 28, 2012. Breaking new ground, the U.S. Education Department is telling schools Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, they must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come. “I heard about some of the other people who joined their track teams in other states. I wanted to try to do that,” said 15-year-old Casey Followay, who competes on his Ohio high school track team in a racing wheelchair. Current rules require Followay to race on his own, without competitors running alongside him. He said he hopes the Education Department guidance will change that and he can compete against runners.(AP Photo/Lisa Followay)
Schools must provide sports for disabled, U.S. says
WASHINGTON — The Education Department says students with disabilities must be given a fair shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues.
That message was being delivered to the nation’s schools on Friday. The order is reminiscent of the Title IX expansion four decades ago of athletic opportunities for girls and women and could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.
Students with disabilities who want to play for their school could join traditional teams if officials could make “reasonable modifications” to accommodate them.
But if those adjustments would fundamentally alter a sport or give the student an advantage, the department is directing the school to create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing to mainstream programs.