Sports Eligibility: SPORTS ELIGIBILITY FOR STUDENT WITH IEP

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Crinn: My daughter is a junior in high school and plays varsity basketball, she is learning disabled and has an IEP . Is there any protection for her to be able to play sports even though her gpa is low? She passed all her classes but her gpa is currently 1.6 with a cumulative of 2.3.The coach told her tonight that she’s ineligible as a 1.7 is required (distinct). She’s been sobbing for hours, saying “I messed up, I messed up, what am I going to do, they won’t let me play” She is a good kid with a beautiful heart, doesn’t miss school struggles to keep up, but is there every day trying. – It will crush her beyond anything I can explain if they don’t let her play. I’m dying inside, looking for a shred of hope.

  1. My son has never been ineligible for sports until last year. We work really hard at home. For 7 years I fought and advocated for him to get him an IEP because he struggled so much to even get a D, let alone needing a C in a class to make sure he qualified. He has had a 504 but the accommodations other than preferential seating were never enforced. Working at home with a child who becomes overwhelmed to the point of shut down is hard for us all. Finally half way thru his JUNIOR year in high school we got our IEP and low and behold, we determined he has a reading goal!!!!! How did he slip through the system with a reading goal needed that could have prevented his anxiety and issues with learning if we had the correct accommodations and help in place 7 years ago. The only thing that kept my son wanting to attend school was being able to participate in soccer and wrestling. He literally was ineligible for theb2nd half of wrestling by 0.02 on his GPA and they would not let him participate (he is a 2 time state qualifying wrestler). In soccer we have college coaches that were actively recruiting him until he was ineligible to play again (he is a semi-national and national team soccer player). He worked very hard to get all his grades to a D and still was not eligible. He is very upset and doesn’t even want to go to school his SENIOR year this year since he has nothing to look forward to. He has even decided that he is not going to college, whereas before he was excited about it. I live in OH and would like to know how to fight for him to be eligible his last year of high school just so he finishes strong and has something to look forward to. How can I help him? Who do I contact?

  2. This is a late post but thought it may help others. A waiver request to the governing organization stating the child has an IEP or 504 with supporting documentation is the first step. Most schools and districts know or should know the importance of “Extracurricular Activities” especially for IEP/504 students that have a learning disability. I took this fight on with little knowledge and was told by the school AD that my kid was good kid, but they could not do much because she “did not work hard enough”. Not True. The Government Office of Civil Rights issued a “Comment Letter” to schools specifically reminding them of the importance of sports and their obligation under FAPE – https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201301-504.pdf – Fight for your kid, its worth it!

  3. My son has been a IEP student since Kindergarten, he is now a senior in high school and has been struggling in school because of the inconsistency of the school IEP and communication between the teacher and IEP teacher. Now, after the first semester, he has become ineligible to play in basketball because of the “eight-semester rule” with the Athletic Association. He has already played in two games. He had to go another year of school because of the failure of the school, teachers, and IEP teacher. He fell behind in school and now they want to take away the one sport he loves and been playing since grade school because they failed him. Can I fight this? Does the IEP students have special sports eligibility rules? This isn’t his fault and this is going to cause more hard them good.

    • Ask for GUIDELINES AND APPLICATION FOR WAIVER OF SCHOLASTIC/EIGHT SEMESTER ELIGIBILITY RULES from that particular association. You can google and do some research in your own area to look at waiver options and how waiver options work in other states. I do agree that sports play a vital role in the development of some students just as art, music, leadership, etc. may do for other students. I don’t think the IEP will grant any special sports eligibility in terms of varsity sports but you can talk to your district. From my experience, it is not wise to push an IEP for a student to qualify for varsity sports.

      • You don’t need a waiver. It is a program modifications for a disability. Grades don’t count in the IEP world.

        • Lisa G, Do you have any links I can use as reference? My son’s GPA has kept him off of two seasonal sports. Athletic Director refuses to allow him to join back on, regardless of his current quarter grade being above 2.0. Director says date of determination was in January, therefore it doesn’t matter what his current grade is. Tomorrow I’m meeting with the principal of school and would really appreciate any supporting documents, thank you.

        • I know this is a long shot but has also been what I have been told is there somewhere I can find this in writing trying to fight for my son and the school has been no help

          • Rules on this are likely set up the state legislature, & entity that is over athletics for public schools. So parents need to look at that entity’s rules, & the district policy.

  4. There is hope. She may not play on the team now due to her GPA. Work with the school district and her to see and evaluate her true academic strengths and deficits. Does she need AT to keep up? What does she want to do after high school? If college is her goal, there are junior colleges that athletes attend who need to work on GPAs, etc, to later transfer to four year colleges. You can google this and or talk to high school and college coaches. There are recreational basketball leagues and great spring camps and summer camps. Research Wrightslaw. Teach her how to self advocate. Have her go on college visits and talk to disability student centers and how students are accommodated. Focus on motivation and better understanding of her IEP, goals, progress, etc.

  5. My child is a two sport varsity athlete with LD finishing high school and headed for college.The reason college is on the table is because of the strong advocacy between my child, myself and the school district which prioritized his IEP goals and use of assistive technology ahead of the sports. Yes, sports motivated my child to have goals and a purpose as some academics were hard.The “touch downs” were always focused on progress.. However, my concern is why is your child’s GPA so low? What academic supports and accommodations are lacking? What are they telling you about her academic progress. As a parent, I did not want my child to have a “dumb jock” label. I did research years ago and realized that many athletes with LD are pushed through the system so schools can win games.

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