Sports Eligibility: ACADEMIC ELIGIBILITY FOR SPORTS IN PRIVATE SCHOOL

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James:  My son attends a private Christian school in Illinois.Up until 4 years ago he attended public school where he had an IEP for ADHD. He is now going to be participating on a high school sports team at another local private school since his school does not offer the sport. His grades are terrible and he would not meet academic eligibility requirements for the school where he will be participating on the sports team. His mother is claiming that the school would be discriminating against him if he was not allowed to participate due to his grades since he has (had most recently 4 years ago) an IEP. Is there any validity to this claim? I’ve tried to research it and I’ve only found rules for accommodations for schools that receive federal funding and even with that I saw nothing that specifically called out that they had to let children participate if they didn’t meet academic standards – only had to allow them the same opportunities to participate as other children. This school does not have to even let him participate with their team at all since he is not enrolled there. I’m afraid that if my ex makes a big deal out of this and it is not true, they will not want the trouble of dealing with her and will not want him on the team. She always tries to blame everything/everyone else for his issues, where he really doesn’t have many issues other than her making excuses for him. A phychiatrist even recently reported that he didn’t believe he had ADHD. He struggles a bit with some things and needs to work a little harder than others, but in general is just a lazy teenager.

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Sports and other extracurriculars can easily serve as motivators to improve behaviors, grades and increase self-esteem and confidence. I don’t think teenagers are “lazy.” I think they now live in difficult times and need skills, tools and resources. This is not about playing basketball in my opinion. This is about a kid who needs a different level support and to understand accountability. I learned as a mom to teach my child with LD to be accountable, responsible and to self advocate. I had to “back off” and allow natural consequences occur. Those natural consequences allowed for much needed growth and maturity so my child could focus on the goals. The mom is trying her best to navigate special education with now a teenager. It is not easy at times and sometimes very stressful.

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