Parents File Discrimination Against Mustang Public Schools


Monday, February 6th 2017, 10:41 pm
By: News 9


The parents of an 8th grade student at Mustang Middle School is suing the school district for discriminating against their daughter.

The 14-year-old has been diagnosed with epilepsy, according to the federal lawsuit.

The parents claim the district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when they kicked their daughter off the basketball team for having seizures during practice.

According to the lawsuit, the coaches were made aware of their daughter's medical condition at the start of the season.

The lawsuit claims the student had a seizure during practice on October 20, 2016, and was made to sit out the following day.

Her parents allegedly advised the coaches that dehydration can lead to seizures, and asked they make sure she stays hydrated.

She was allowed to return to practice and within a week she had a second seizure.

At that point, the coaches required she get a doctor's note before returning to practice.

"The mom reached out to me," said Jenniafer Walters, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation Oklahoma.

Walters explained many schools districts are not trained to deal with the disorder.

"I think it is just scary and they are just uneducated with it," Walters said.

The Epilepsy Foundation provides free seizure training to schools and workplaces to help prevent discrimination.

Walters claims she offered the training in this instance, but has not yet been called to do so.

The parents claim they offered suggestions, as well as multiple doctor's notes only to be told they were not detailed enough.

The lawsuit alleges the parents complied with the additional request for information from their doctor -- all clearing the child to play basketball.

On November 8, 2016, their daughter had a third seizure during practice.

According to the lawsuit, the head basketball coach told the student "she was no longer permitted to be on the team."

The parents took the issue to the principal to which the principal replied, "the school would be negligent to allow her to continue to play," the lawsuit states.

The parents allegedly went to the director of secondary schools in the district.

The lawsuit states the director requested the doctor sign off on every line item of the players expectations list.

The parents claim they complied and then took their daughter, cleared to play, to the first game.

The lawsuit alleges the coach told the parents and child that she could not play and said that wearing the uniform was her "treating the uniform like a Halloween costume," the lawsuit states.

The parents said their child was humiliated and was "told to change clothes and sit in the stands."

"She has the right to play absolutely and especially if a doctor signs and fills out a form," Walters said.

Walters said it is disappointing to hear about cases like this one but it happens often in Oklahoma, and epilepsy is one of the most discriminated against disabilities.

The parents said in their daughter's case, it was bullying -- at the very least a violation of the district's own bullying policy.

The school district spokesperson Shannon Rigsby replied to the lawsuit with the following statement:

Mustang Public Schools works diligently to provide for the safety and wellbeing of our students both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. We cannot speak to the specifics about any of our students. We can affirm that a lawsuit has been filed and we are conducting our own investigation.

The parents and their attorney declined to give any addition comment at this point in the case.

For more information about free seizure training and additional information on epilepsy: www.okepilepsy.org.