Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Kicking a tot with Down syndrome out of preschool over potty training is discrimination

Kicking a three-year-old with Down syndrome out of preschool because she was not potty trained is discrimination. Now a preschool in Moorestown, NJ, has to pay an $18,000 settlement to the child's parents, reports NBC News, and a $30,000 civil fine.

A refusal to accommodate a child with disabilities may not be news to those of us who have children with disabilities; so many of us have had to contend with camps, after-school programs and activities refusing to include our children, especially when they're delayed with independent toileting. But this is an important reminder that parents have a legal leg to stand on.

The parents in the case had provided the preschool, Chesterbrook Academy, with medical documents that stated toilet training is more challenging for children with Down syndrome. A couple of days later, the principal informed the parents that their daughter would be disenrolled if she were not potty-trained within seven days (an unreasonable demand for most any child). The parents requested that she be transferred back to a classroom in which staff provided diapering; they were refused. Same for their requests to extend the deadline. After their little girl was booted out, the parents filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The attorney's office found that the preschool violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it "refused to modify its standard toileting policy" for the child and then expelled her "on the basis of her disability." The school had, in fact, according to the official complaint, had "prior involvement with investigations and litigation on this issue."

The company that owns the day care, Nobel Learning Communities Inc, has 157 daycares across the country As part of the settlement, the company has change its policy on potty training to one that provides "reasonable modifications for children with disabilities." Amen!

This is a lesson to all parents of children with disabilities: your child has the legal right to accommodations in places that serve the public, including day care centers, parks, private schools, libraries, restaurants, hotels, theater, retail store, doctors' office and the list goes on. And if your child is shut out, then you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, here. If you have any questions about filing an ADA complaint, you can call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

People's sensibilities, ethics or hearts may not always be on our side, but the law sure is.

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