DOE new mandate requires schools to set up disabled sports teams. Photo via Pierre Benker.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education, along with the Office of Civil Rights passed a new unfunded mandate which requires schools to make concessions, allowances and modifications for disabled students who want to play school sports.
While much of the new mandate is a refresher on discrimination, something most people with a heart and soul can get behind, the last recommendation mandates that if reasonable accommodations cannot be made for a disabled student, then a school must fund and organize another team to meet the demands of disabled students.
For example, disabilities like diabetes and asthma — schools would be required to have a nurse assigned to that student for any school sponsored event they participated in. That’s going to be costly, but not nearly as egregious as the second part of the mandate, which states that even if only ONE disabled student is interested in a sport such as Basketball and cannot be accommodated with reasonable measures (lets say the student is in a wheel chair and wants to play basketball on the Varsity team), then the school must provide a suitable alternative.
So, let’s say you have three students who fall in to this category; who are they gonna play? The U.S. Department of Education says that schools can comply by starting a school district wide team and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be at each school.
Okay, so let’s say a disabled student lives in a rural area with too few participants to make up a disabled team, the school must now pay for that student’s transportation and what if the long bus ride requires the disabled student to have medical staff? Then the school has to pay for that too. While all of this is very moral and ideal in theory, how are cash strapped schools supposed to pay for this?
Some school districts have declined to comment on it, saying that they’re waiting to find out the costs and determine if the costs mean they must eliminate their sports programs altogether.
Perhaps the U.S. Department of Education will take another look at this, but this is just so typical. Bureaucrats who know nothing about financial constraints passing laws/mandates without considering the consequences. The same bureaucrats who send their kids to private schools or live in cash flush school districts.
The irony of it is — the poorer the community, the more of a negative effect it will have on their schools budget and sports program, which many poor communities rely on heavily.
What do you think? If providing equal funding and teams for disabled students means that schools cannot afford athletic programs at all, would you still support it?
Another irony — the U.S. Department of Education says they put this mandate together because of how vital sports is to the development of minors, but if the program has to be eliminated because school districts can’t shoulder the burden, then how would that be beneficial to anybody?
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