In an effort to break down some, if not all, of the barriers facing students with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that schools make accommodations for students with disabilities that do not fundamentally change the nature of the activity. The question of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, therefore, is usually vital to most ADA and Rehabilitation Act cases.

"S.S.," the plaintiff in Schor v. Whitesboro Central School District [2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 11727], was a high school freshman who suffered severe anxiety attacks in public. Upon enrolling at Whitesboro Senior High School, S.S. joined the school's swim team. S.S.'s parents on numerous occasions informed the school and the coach what to do when she suffered an anxiety attack — during severe onsets of anxiety, they said, S.S. would experience fears of drowning and would need to exit the pool to ease her anxiety. S.S. experienced a severe anxiety attack at a time trial and at a swim meet, and in both cases, her coach showed little compassion, at one point threatening to kick her off the swim team.

As a result of the coach's unwillingness to make accommodations, S.S.'s disability was exacerbated to such an extent that she was unable to attend school for the rest of the fall semester, and her parents filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief. In ruling in favor of the school district, the court held that S.S. failed to meet all of the requirements of the law. In particular, the court held that S.S. failed to show that she was otherwise qualified to meet all of the swim team program's requirements, noting that an essential requirement of being a member of the swim team is that the person must be able to swim when called upon to do so. In addition, the court said that S.S. failed to show what reasonable accommodations the school district could have made for this particular disability.

This last point notwithstanding, the Whitesboro Central School District and in particular the swim coach may want to review how they handle such cases in the future. The coach's behavior — threatening to kick a student with an emotional disability off the team (and allegedly thinking that she could tell when the student was having a "real" attack) — was insensitive and wrongheaded. In the end, S.S. had to quit the team and drop out of school, so while no laws may have been broken, the school and the coach ought to have worked harder to find a better solution.

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I am an architect so I believe in the goals of ADA but sometimes the advocates confuse what are rights with what are privileges.

Also I think you could have come up with a less provocative title to the article.
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By Andrew Cohen — Athletic Bus Monday, 27 February 2012
You can blame me for the headline...I was going for funny, not provocative. I will consider all alternative titles posted here, and re-title it in accordance with readers' suggestions.
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If she does not have the ability to participate(Swim) in a meet, how can she be a member of the team? What about the rights of everyone else on the team who are trying to win the meet?
One word: Intramurals.
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Andrew: The appropriateness of going for a laugh can be questioned as I am quite sure this was not a laughing matter for either parents, child, coaches or swim teammates of the plaintiff. Perhaps playing it straight with a less 'funny' title would be the best approach?
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By Andrew Cohen — Athletic Bus Monday, 27 February 2012
As much as I feel for S.S. and her parents (and as much as I think the coach was insensitive, and as much as I support the goals of ADA), I must confess to feeling that suing your school to compete when you evidently can't compete is a bit silly. Thus the attempt at humor. I pitched in high school, and I can imagine my days would have been numbered if I started pulling myself from practices and games - even with a doctor's note.
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Prep Swimmer Loses ADA Lawsuit
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If I hadn't read the whole article, I would have been laughing at the sheer idiocy of the thing.

Not to belittle the girl's affliction, but give me a freaking break. She has anxiety attacks that lead to a fear of drowning, so she joins the swim team.? Come on!

I have anxiety attacks that lead to a fear of falling, that's why I'll join the parachute club. And while I'm falling, I may have an attack so I'll have to stop and get back into the plane.

Geesus!!!
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By Andrew Cohen — Athletic Bus Monday, 27 February 2012
Okay, Rick, I give - thanks for the new headline. Although I'm open to other readers' suggestions, too, no matter how provocative.
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Oh, come on, do we take ourselves much too seriously!!! I thought the inital headline was great, sure caught my attention and made me want to read more.
As a former competitive swimmer and water polo player I thought it funny. One of my teammates at district championships was on starting blocks ready and all of a sudden, riippp!! The back of his Speedo completely split. Everyone got a view of his 'better half' and he completed the race regardless, although a little more flushed than usual.
Now, why the heck is a person with a phobia of drowning wanting to be on swim team? Sounds like she or her parents looking for attention via a lawsuit. I cannot imagine her teammates appreciating that, not to mention a swimmer who may not have made the team because she had to have special access. What a joke - more like disgraceful. She needs to be in private lessons and counseling, not forcing an elective competitive sport to accomodate her unreasonable needs and demands.
Everything is wrong with this.
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Yeah provocative was the wrong word and given the context that I feel like you may be implying - ridiculous story deserves a funny title - I now think it was appropriate. The whole thing was probably lawyer driven anyway just like the Basketball Court Puddle story.