Does an IEP make a child ineligible for sports?

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I was told that my child cannot participate in sports at school because he has an IEP. Isn’t this discrimination? 

Prohibiting a student from participating in a sport because he has a disability and an IEP is discrimination, and a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. 

There are exceptions.

If a child is missing an organ, courts have split about whether the child can be denied the opportunity to participate in a contact sport like football or wrestling. In these cases, the court tries to balance the need to protect the child from serious harm (or death) against the child’s right to participate in a sport. 

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my son is an iep student … has been since first grade, now he is in the tenth grade. He loves sports! this year the school got a new athletic director and he is the football and wrestling coach. even though my son is making the state requirements on the grades he sets his own! what are my sons rights? the coach said they had to have a 2.0 to play. my son got an F but still carried a 2.7 and was told that he had 1 week to bring it up or he was suspended from the team. needless to say he could not do it in the time allotted and he was suspended from the team. my son was devastated and humiliated! not only that, he is an iep student with a learning disability but now everybody knows and he is ashamed. the sad part is the states required grade point average is a 1.5 and he is way above that. Please help. Does my son have any rights?

following. The football coach told my son if he can’t get his grades up by Christmas he’s kicking him out of Athletic and putting him in a classroom. My son is on a IEP he is at 6th grade level by his IEP and is in the 10th grade and has struggled all year.


High School, Sports, NCAA,

I must add to the discussion that if your child is a competitive athlete and wants to attend college, then careful and directed steps must be taken to ensure eligibility. My LD daughter who is going into the 9th grade must comply with NCAA eligibility rules as she wants to attend a division I or II school. The next four years will involve college prep courses and intensive work and sports for her. While the IEP , current assessments, etc. is key, certain high school courses are necessary for a competitive LD athlete with an IEP to transition to college to play sports at a highly competitive level. This planning must start before the child enters high school. I suggest the NCAA website for parents to plan, educate themselves and understand eligibility.



Can an IEP force a public school to allow my son to play soccer. Soccer is extacurricular but sponsored by the school. He would have to tryout. Im sure he would not make it, but can they be forced to let him practice with them and play a little? Being part of something is more important than being the star player.


My grandson was entering his 8th grade year. All summer he went to football practice, football camp, and paid his money for pay to play. On the day of their first game, he was told he did not meet the gpa. He has been with an iep for at least 2 years. Which I have yet to see help him. My daughter has taken him to Dr’s and they say he has ADHD. He had taken numerous on line classes to improve his attention, he has had many therapies, all paid for by his parents. His real problem comes from not remembering to turn in his homework. Him and his mother, father, sister, and myself make sure his work is done. The teacher says he needs to start taking responsibility for his own work. This problem is identified in his IEP. He also forgets to write down his assignments, but this is covered through the power something on the computer.


OMG My son is the same way Is he getting any better… I’m trying my hardest get frustrated at time but we to do it together, HE IS A DIE HEART FOR SPORTS,BUT HIS GPA IS LOW.. I GO FOR A HEARING FOR IMPROVEMENT TOMORROW


Does your son have an IEP? I ask because you may want to look at his goals that he needs to achieve. Some of them may be to vague or too difficult. If that is the situation call an IEP meeting to address your concerns.


Can my son’s IEP exempt him from meeting the eligiblity requirements to play high school sports?


My son has learning disabilities. He had played 2 years of flag football.This year they said he had to be cut due to his grades, but he has an I.E.P. In the I.E.P report he’s doing good, but not meeting his grade level. I gave them the I.E.P. My son has to play for another city where we don’t belong.


My son is not prohibited to play football due to behavior he has demonstrated, as an impact of his disability. The behavior is not of violent nature. The coach told me he can not let him on the team due to his behavior at school. When the three behavioral incidents were discussed with the coach, and it was evident they were not anything that would damage the teams reputation, he stated he could not let him on the team if he was re-evaluated, and found to have a behavior disability, because he may do something that would cause him not to be able to coach. My son currently is diagnosed with ADHD, and will be re evaluated to determine if a behavioral disability is present.


My daughter Abigail has an extensive IEP for intellectual as well as social delays. She is in 10th grade. She played JV SOFTBALL FOR HER high school last spring. She tried out this year but was cut and this devastated her. I didn’t know if this was allowed since they were the ones who was pushing for extracurricular activities to help with her social piece of her IEP. We live in Massachusetts and have tried to find anything that relates to this can you help!


It sounds like what we are going through the same thing, I just don’t know where to turn.we have had so many IEP meetings and meetings with his teachers, principles &.the Athletic director.they all say the same thing they don’t know. My son
has been a wrestler for years but this is his first year of high school and he has not been able to compete, due to his less than 2. gpa. my son has been on a IEP since he started kindergarten due to his ADHD. we have him in out side tutoring but he is still is in classes that are not at his level, I feel he is being punished for his disability. thank you, if have any ides let me know, I live in Vancouver Washington.

thanks for listening,


I suggest you contact your state parent training and information center. They should know what your state regulations are on this.


My daughter has a 504 plan. She has no short term memory. SHe is a C student for the most time but her grades to go up and down as she has alot of difficulty in Math and Science. But she tries and always gives it her best. The goal for her is to run track. Can an exemption be made for a student on a 504 plan? She lives for track and if it is taken away, well, I just don’t want to see it come to that.


My middle school child with an IEP plays sports. He has to keep up his grades up to play–that is the bottom line and no exceptions to that. If he is not making adequate progress or is struggling, then he, parents and PPT team can sit and have some discussions. He does not want waivers due to his disability—he wants to compete and indeed he does far exceeding most. At the end of the day, it is about him making progress. He did start out in recreational sports before progressing to school sports. Each child is unique and one’s disability presents itself in different way when it comes to sports. My child does not want me to push for exceptions for him in sports. But, he has to keep up his grades to play. One has to insure that the school is providing academic support …adequate IEP goals are important for such kids and support.


I really need to know why you cannot get help as a parent to find training to safely hold your child so you can get them to stay by your side when they want to wander away in public. (e.g.the fair, festivals, trick-or-treating,just to name a few examples.) When my autistic son gets in any crowded place he just seems to get aimless. As an 8 yr old he is stronger now and i can’t hold him in a hug like usual much so i can get him to hear me. We live in nc. “please give me advice”


Kareena – Is it ‘just’ ADHD? Have you ever had your son evaluated independently or through the school district. An 8th grader reading at a 5th grade reading level is cause for concern. These reading struggles could mean more than just ADHD (Dyslexia?). I would push to have my son go through a neuropsychological evaluation via the school district (IEE) or if possible (and even better) paid by you.

In the meantime – if your son loves sports – are there any recreations sports that he can get in till you get more information?


My son is 15yrs ,He is ADHD and has struggled in school from the start. He wants to play soccer for the high school, without the grades they said he can’t. This child has struggled from day 1 and continues to struggle. He is in the 8th grade and his reading is on 5th grade, which affects every class. He does have an IEP which clearly states his reading is far below grade level and in all subjects does not meet learning objectives. How can he not be eligible to sports if his disability obviously effects his grades?


My son had a stroke 2 years ago and continues to struggle with cognitive issues, anxiety, and impulse control. He was on the varsity football team and was put on the JV level. He was unable to play in one JV game because of his IEP meeting, the second game he was ill. He was kicked off for not participating
This created extreme anxiety and additional health concerns for my son. My son did talk with the coach last week and the conversation got “heated” on both sides. My sons admits to making insulting comments to the coach after the coach said”this is going to bother you until you rot and die”. My son was sent to the prinicipals office-no disciplinary action was given. Now he was told by the wrestling coach that he can’t volunteer at the middle school because they don’t want “someone like him” associated with wrestling. Any suggestions.

Sharon L.

Dawn – Can he take it next year and have it fit into the schedule so he can take music? What about summer school?


I discovered this website while researching options for my son. My son, Jake was diagnosed ADHD in 1st grade. He is now a freshman in high school. He takes medication and does well in his classes. He was issued an IEP in 6th grade. Jake has participated in band since then. Music is so important to him. He has learned to play Trombone, piano, guitar and harmonica… mostly self taught except for Trombone which he learned in band and sought out, ON HIS OWN a tutor to help him improve on this instrument. All of his free time revolves around music. Yesterday he was told that he would not be able to participate in band next semester because one of his classes (Algebra) is only offered during band time. Is there anything we can do??? This class is required according to his IEP. He is devastated and I know the outcome will be negative. Help !


My has ADHD and the school failed to give him acomodation and he failed 11th grade and now uil refused to give him a waver to play another year of sports because of their four years elligibilty.Is he not protected under the disablity act since it was not his fault that he failed 11th grade. If the school has given him acomodation, he could have pass 11th grade. His hearing with uil is coming soon. I need an advice.


my daughter had a severe car accident. Her TBI made her left hand weaker-as a result the basketball coach cut her from the team siteing that and the team would be better off without her. He chose a player for varsity even though she had her arm in a splint from surgery. He didn’t know how well she was going to be able to use it-as it turned out she had to have surgery again and couldn’t play. was my daughter discriminated against. She has not recovered from this mentally.


especially since you said the child is NEARLY recovered from a head injury, I’d say the school is making a decision not in discrimination but in interest of the child’s health & welfare. Soccer is listed as one of the top ten sports where significant head injuries occur worldwide. Up to 60% of soccer players by college age have reported concussion or other head injury symptoms.

Has your grandson’s parents consulted with his pediatrician and neurologist for guidance on whether the child is appropriate to return to activities & sports like soccer? Remember heads are quite often used during soccer play (especially from high school through professional level), and there is NO protective gear used. (Soccer head injuries are often worse than football, hockey & baseball).

Again this sounds like erring on the side of safety.


My grandson wasn’t allowed to play soccer because school thought he might get hurt .He had a head injury in 2009-car accident-mostly recovered-has an IEP. can they do this?

Sharon L.

Sonja – This depends on the disability. Obviously if a physically disabled student tries out for football they may not qualify. If a learning disabled student tries out for football any accommodations that are on the IEP would be the same for the sport as well. My dyslexic son got on the football team and there was no problem with him getting on it. He was not that good so he was on third string but he liked being part of the group. There was nothing like homework or reading or writing so he did not have to struggle with his dyslexia. The most difficult thing for him was to keep the grade point average. We had accommodations and modifications on his IEP to allow him to have good grades and to keep up with the homework so he would have time for the sport.


If a child with a disability has to try out for school teams, how can they be given an equal opportunity if they have to compete with non-disabled students.


11 grade boy who is on an i.e.p says he cant miss more then 5 assignments or if he does they will all be counted as his grade. he hasnt missed any assignments just has low test scores. at school every day. plays basketball. now he is ineligible to play cause of his grades r gpa. i was not contacted or notified that he was failing. if i had known i would have intervened – got him back on the right trac. i feel the school failed my son. i requested an emergency iep and request a weekly iep. i ask he becomes eligible immediately.any suggestions on how i can fight this decisionso my son can play ball?


Can a coach/school prevent my son, 13 yrs old with a diagnosis of ADHD, from attending Basketball “AWAY” games due to one behavior issue? He is on an IEP, has major impluse control issues, had a behavior at a home game and coach has stated that he can and will keep my son from attending away games if behaviors continue. Coach has also made negative comments to my son regarding incidents the coach has nothing to do with. I just want to know if he can prevent my son from attending games. Please advise?


My son had a stroke his freshman year while at school. His school was very large and due to several things he developed anxiety attacks only while at school. His doctor suggested we look into changing him to a smaller school. I am from a small town in Wisconsin and so we moved there to be with family and provide him a smaller school. It is very therapeutic for him to play sports. The WIAA won’t let him play because we haven’t sold our home yet even though we are renting a home in the town the school is in and will be living there full time. Because sports are therapeutic and help with his overall well being therefore adding to his academic success can we put it on the IEP and than does the WIAA have to grant him a waiver?


Can my son’s IEP excempt him from meeting the eligiblity requirements to play high school sports?


My son was just cut from jv baseball for no given reason. He’s a strong player but does have a IEP. Do high school coaches cut kids with iep? He’s been devastated never saw this coming nor did i!!! Any advice would be great!!!!


Students with disabilities are to be treated as any other student is. Your state parent training & information center can assist you.


Does my son’s IEP make a difference with him being eligible to play high school sports? My son passed 5 of 6 classes one of them being gym which I’ve been told doesn’t count. Therefore, we have been told he is ineligible to play football this season. I am not sure if the fact of him having a learning disability makes a difference or not. The class that he didn’t pass was German. He did pass it for the year but not for the 4th quarter. Can you help me to see if there is a way for him to still be able to play this season. He is 16 and a junior and has had an IEP since kindergarden. He has been in special help classes until 9th grade when he wanted to try to take regular classes. It has help that is supposed to be available to him but I he didn’t really have any set help in his German class.

thanks for the help,


My son is 5 and we just moved to NY he has had two previous IEP’s, the first and Washington the last in Michigan. Now we will be working on the NY one. We recently (August) had him privately evaluated at a hospital and they found hit Gross motor skills “poor” and about 2 years delayed. We have not previously been successful in getting public schools to provide Physical therapy for him but I’m hoping this time will be different because the gap between his age and ability in this area is widening severly. In his Last IEP we were told they will not provide PT because it was not relevant to his ability to learn in the class room, but we’re worried that he’s so clumsy at gym and at recess his self esteem and ability to play team sports will be affected. He has Autism. Any suggestions?


Does anyone know what can be done if a school doesn’t follow the IHSA minimum requirement to be eligible for sports? Yet they don’t have it in writing? I’m in Illinois. Thanks


My son is a Type I diabetic playing JV lacrosse. His coach has made several comments to him about his diabetes that are “subtle” but alarming. I would characterize the comments as “inappropriate”. He started for the team last year and his playing time has dwindled as a sophmore. Is there any protection under the ADA/504 Rehabilitaton Plan. It seems he is the victim of “subtle” discrimination in that the coach has said he is “paranoid” about his diabetes.


My daughter 15 years old, Sophomore in HS, has always maintained 2.0 + as a cheerleader for the last 2 years. Recently her grades started to fall, i was never once contacted by the school to discuss her 504 nor did the teachers seem aware that she had one. Tryouts came and she was eniligible because of the “3rd” semester report card. Prior to receiving the report card i contacted the counselor who immediately contacted the teachers. Since meeting with the counselor my daughter’s 504 has been followed. Her grades have improved but because the grades didn’t meet their guidelines at the time of tryouts, she was ineligible. Cheer coach says she’s an asset to the squad & knows her cheer ability. Can I fight this?


My son 11th grade has an IEP, loves to play sports. His learning disability causes grades to fluctuate, he gets dropped from playing sports. I spoke with the coach who said it was out of his hands, a district decision. I went to the district,was told that it was a regulation of the Association the district belonged to. I called the the Association, director said that they go by state regulations – student must have at least a 2:0 point grade average. I said it made no accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Response was sorry that’s the law. When I complained he said sue us, others have tried. OCR looking into IEP not being met, teachers not following IEP. Three different Doctors wrote letters saying it was important for my son to play sports. Son is Depressed.

My son received an F on algebra his second 9 weeks. He is currently on an IEP now 6 weeks later they want to kick him off the wrestling team with 4 weeks left and a state qualifier. I was never informed of his problem in math. What should I do?


My son has attention deficit. We had him on some medications. The medicine did help, but he lost down to 115 lbs he is about 5’9. He looked like a skeleton. I took him off the medicine at Thanksgiving he is now up to 125. Looks a lot better but is still skinny. In sports, he excels in football, basketball, track . I have had him tested he is just border line on being able to get the special help that he needs. I have in the past paid for tutoring myself. Today, he came home and said the coach told him he was ineligible because of english. I am furious, if a child gives 100% and can only make a C or D. Do I just say ok. And be happy with that? To me I feel like it discriminating, sports is all he has to hang on to. Whats your opinion?


My son has autism and has been able to participate fully in cross country and track for 2 years- this is his 2nd year of middle school. This is the only thing he has been able to participate in with neurotypical peers and be quite successful with no accommodations or modifications. School personnel and coaches all agree with us that this activity provides him with the most overall benefit. The positive changes in his self-esteem and his acceptance by his peers because he is a good runner is a huge benefit. However, we haven’t left his success all up to them. With his dad as a volunteer coach he can help meet Wyatt”s unique needs without overburdening the coach, yet foster Wyatt’s growth and independence.


My son’s high school does not go by ISHA minimum standards for sports eligibility for a student with a learning disability on an IEP.

Where can I find information regarding this? My school sets their own standards for all students which I think is unfair.

Thank you


I’m having same issue my son has adhd affects his learning he is on 504 plan the said he can’t be on team if he don’t have high gpa also said my sons 504 did not matter to them


Sharon you son can be on the team. I think his GPA has to be at least a 2.0 don’t quote me on that. Have you written a letter to the principle because you should. Hopefully he will talk with the Coach if not go to the director of special education and then the superintendent. Your son has the same rights as his peers.


Sports help many students achieve beyond the fields and courts. Many high school athletes have 504s/IEPs and continue to college but certain requirements must be met through NCAA eligibility, etc. That is ONE of the reasons that grades are important. Students must make progress and IEPS, assessments and tracking all play a part in that. My children played varsity sports. My son had an IEP– it was more important to makes gains in writing skills and reading and self advocacy to prepare for college and use assistive technology. Some districts allow low GPAs in some states. Think carefully if your child is headed for college as low GPAs, etc. impact college admission choices and scholarships. Most students athletes are motivated for higher grades due to sports.


The school told us that these exclusions were due to my son now being on an IEP. They were not in favor of an IEP being written. That was sixth grade and my son is sixteen now. The school pays for counseling with a goal of “teach my son appropriate ways to respond to bullying and teasing”. Exclusions/retaliation increased after the SDE and OCR found Denial FAPE. The school District and their attorney have provided a commitment letter indicating that they will pay tuition for a private placement if accepted. The school accepted him and we meet in August for the formal placement change. There was a documented 26% decline in my son’s IQ score in the first twenty months of exclusions alone.The initial evaluation documents Aspergers but the ADOS was done four years later that confirmed an Autistic diagnosis. The private counselor is in favor of the private school’s mindset to address this developmental area. Thanks to my talented wife, my son has taken his high school courses via Florida Virtual School and has a 4.12 GPA in College prep courses. The dusty drums sit on my son’s shelf , beside childhood soccer and basket ball trophies.


Our school informed us that my son was not allowed to participate in band (where he was an A student drummer), attend assemblies, go onto the recreation field with peers during lunch, take P.E. or ride the bus back in. We did not know at the time that we could ask to see this district policy in writing. We were not aware that we could request in writing Prior Written Notice for why the decision was made to exclude my son from these important social interactions. By the time we learned about these rights, our son was already discouraged and had began to withdraw. It was almost laughable when a school psychologist recently expressed concern that my son was so withdrawn (after a few years of exclusion). The psychologist suggested that “parents allow the child to explore social activities of interest”. I handed him their own documentation and asked how four years of exclusion from peers has helped my son learn these social skills. It seemed to me that while they were “teaching” my son and his peers that he did not belong, this may have hindered potential for fitting in with these same kids at church and community functions.