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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Illinois Lawsuit settled over Disabled Student Athletes

The Associated Press | June 24, 2015

CHICAGO — Disabled prep student athletes will be given full opportunities to compete in certain sports under a settlement with the Illinois High School Association that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Wednesday.
The settlement allows disabled student athletes to compete and earn points toward a team state championship in swimming, diving and track and field. It resolves a lawsuit brought in 2012 by Mary Kate Callahan, a former disabled swimmer at Fenwick High School in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park.
The IHSA oversees high school sports in Illinois. A spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement. Madigan's lawsuit charged the IHSA with violating federal laws affecting the disabled.
Under the settlement, the IHSA must maintain records for disabled student athletes as it does for all other student athletes. It also must adopt a revised accommodations policy for student athletes with disabilities and provide a trained Americans with Disabilities coordinator.
Madigan's office also will also monitor IHSA's responses to accommodation requests from disabled students. IHSA staff, board members, coaches and officials will be trained in ADA issues.
The association also must create an annual road race open to all Illinois high school students that recognizes finishers in each gender in both an open and wheelchair division.
Callahan was represented in the lawsuit by Equip for Equality, a legal advocacy organization for people with disabilities in Illinois. Callahan sued the IHSA saying she couldn't win points for her team and couldn't compete in separate categories for disabled swimmers.
"I'm happy other athletes will gain the experience and great memories of competing for their school and with their teammates," Callahan said. "My hope is that opportunities will continue to increase for athletes like myself here in Illinois."
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