High School Sports

NFHS response to Dept. of Education ruling

Posted January 25, 2013

The National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations released the below statement after the U.S. Department of Education ruling that students with disabilities must be given the opportunity to play sports or have their own leagues.

Here is the statement in its entirety:

As the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is in full support of the policy of inclusion that underlies the guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for K-12 schools to provide opportunities for disabled students to participate on athletic teams.

In the most recent High School Athletics Participation Survey, the NFHS’ 51 member state associations and the 19,100 schools in those associations reported that almost 7.7 million boys and girls participate in high school sports. Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, said even more individuals now will have the opportunity for that once-in-a-lifetime experience of high school sports.

“We believe in the values of participation for all students,” Gardner said. “Providing opportunities for disabled students adds value to their educational experiences.”

While the new OCR guidelines issued Friday do not ensure that a disabled student will be able to play on a school’s competitive team, they do deal with five principles that schools must implement to provide modifications for a disabled athlete that would provide that individual the opportunity to play on a school’s competitive team.

Although the implementation of these guidelines will be on an individual school basis throughout the nation, the NFHS, which writes playing rules for 16 high school sports, will be working with its membership to assist schools.

“The NFHS and our member state associations will work together with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to enhance participation opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities,” Gardner said.

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