In America, a parent is filing an age discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Mendon-Upton Regional School District for denying his sixth-grade daughter access to the middle school track team.
Gary Gienger, of Plumbley Road, told the School Committee last night that his daughter has "academic consistency issues" and is currently being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
She is also a gifted runner who placed eighth in a state cross country meet, Gienger said.
"That sort of success is thought, by her counselor and at least one of her teachers to impact her performance in other areas," he told the School Committee.
Gienger pointed to the district's policy against discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or other factors for admission to programs and activities. He further pointed to U.S. Department of Education regulations saying that any program or activity that receives federal financial support may not use age distinctions to exclude individuals from those programs.
The administration has responded, Gienger said, by saying that the team is limited by grade and is registered with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as a seventh- and eighth-grade team.
Gienger said that complying with the MIAA does not mean the district is not discriminating.
Unless the matter is resolved, Gienger plans to pursue a finding with the U.S. Department of Education that unlawful discrimination has occurred, he said. He plans to look into whether other Mendon-Upton policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, other mandates to serve gifted and talented children and other state regulations.
"Whatever the outcome, if the board upholds the administration on this policy, this district can no longer maintain that it does not discriminate or that it does what is in the best interest of the children whose education we, as parents, entrust to it," Gienger said.
School Committee Chairman Don Morin deferred comment to Superintendent Antonio Fernandes, saying that the administration has been handling the situation.
Fernandes said the district will respond accordingly after hearing from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
"Since Mr. Gienger is putting forward a formal complaint, my response is to the body that will make a final decision, that's the (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)," Fernandes said.
In other business, Fernandes discussed the district's School Choice policy, as the number of students coming into the district has dropped and the number leaving has grown.
School Choice, which allows students to go to public school in another town, is currently only allowed at the high school. Fernandes suggested the district open School Choice to all schools, but leave it up to the principal to decide whether there is room for choice students.
That's how Mendon-Upton operated for several years before limiting choice to the high school. Reverting to that approach did not require a vote because the decision to open School Choice is being left to the administrators and does not impact Mendon-Upton's status as a School Choice district, Fernandes said.
Article from Milford Daily News