Has your child faced disability discrimination at school?

Under federal law, public school students who have disabilities must receive equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. In a recent lawsuit against Barry Goldwater High School in the Deer Valley Unified School District, the parents of sophomore Presley Shine claim the school denied their daughter the chance to try out for the basketball team because she has Down syndrome.

Explore Shine’s story and learn more about how schools must offer equal access for all students.

Alleged discrimination in Deer Valley

While Shine played freshman basketball at Barry Goldwater, she was the only student cut from the first day of junior varsity and varsity tryouts the following year. After two hours, the coaches told the Shines that Presley would not make either team and should try out for a Special Olympics team rather than her school team.

In response to these actions, the Shines have requested $50,000 for legal expenses and $100,000 dedicated to training schools on providing equal activity and sports opportunities to disabled students. Attorney Troy Foster of The Foster Group, who is representing the Shines, says the family wants to provide “a fair shot… for all students. My clients want to be treated like everyone else. It’s really not about highlighting the disability.”

School responsibilities

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits schools from:

  • Assuming a student cannot participate in a sport or activity because of stereotypes about his or her disability
  • Failing to accommodate students who could otherwise participate in a sport or activity
  • Failing to include students with disabilities by offering only alternate activities

Today, Presley Shine attends Caurus Academy, where she plays basketball and feels welcomed by her new teammates. If your child attends public school and you have concerns about disability accommodations, ask to speak to the Section 504 specialist. Failure to have a staff member to help parents navigate these claims violates federal law and can result in legal damages.