Department of Education leveling field for disabled athletes

Department releases new guidelines for K-12 schools

Author: David Sears, Reporter, dsears@ksat.com
Published On: Jan 25 2013 06:30:57 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 25 2013 06:39:33 PM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

The Department of Education wants student athletes with disabilities to have an equal opportunity.

So on Friday, they released guidelines to help schools with grades K-12.

"Schools may not exclude students who have intellectual, developmental, physical or any other disability from trying out and playing on a team if they are otherwise qualified," the Department of Education said in a statement.

"Certainly, within our school district and athletics in general, we want students to participate," said Northside Independent School District Athletic Director Stan Laing. "That is really the beauty of athletics ... teaching young people to overcome adversity and challenges and go on to be successful."

The schools won’t need to change any game rules and they won’t need to give the athletes with disabilities any unfair advantage, but they will have to make modifications to make sure the athletes with disabilities get the same opportunity as other athletes.

Shawn Britt, the program director of Special Olympics Texas, believes there are many athletes that can compete given the chance.

"Because of their intellectual disabilities, they are not able to compete on a regular team, so they come to Special Olympics, but with a few modifications, I do believe several could compete at the high school level," Britt said.

"Our coaches look for ways to meet their needs from an athletic standpoint so they can compete," Laing said.