My 4 year old son was accepted into a summer camp program at our local gym which would run 2 hours a day, twice a week for 3 weeks. I spoke to the coordinator weeks in advance and explained my son is mildly autistic. The coordinator said this wouldn't be a problem as there are teachers running the camp and they would have the training necessary to deal with my son. My son received a government grant to pay for summer programs such as this one, and the government check was cashed to pay for the camp.
6 days before the program started we had orientation and I brought my son to the facility. I was told at that point that without an aid present at every class, my son is not allowed to attend the camp. I asked why and the coordinator simply said they don't feel comfortable with my son in the class, and she was not able to provide the staff to work with him. The part that upsets me the most is my child was not even given the opportunity to go the first day (which I agreed to supervise the entire 2 hour class) because the coordinator didn't feel comfortable with his diagnosis. As of today 06/30/10 the gym still has the grant money from the government and the summer camp started yesterday.....
What are my legal rights as a parent of a child with a disability? Was I obligated to inform the gym about my sons medical condition?
1 Answer from Attorneys
It would appear that the summer program you decribed is a public accommodation subject to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (provided it is not controlled or operated by a religious organization). Accordingly, under Title III, a covered entity must comply with the basic nondiscrimination requirements prohibiting exclusion, segregation and unequal treatment of children with disabilities. However, a child may be excluded if the child posses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or requires a fundamental alteration of the program. Unless a fundamental alteration is necessary, the program must make reasonable modifications to policies and practices to integrate children with disabilities.
I would need to know more specific facts about your matter in order to provide advice or recommendations. Feel free to contact our office for further consultation.