A Cincinnati woman is suing the Great Miami Valley YMCA claiming that the organization discriminated against her six year old son who has Down syndrome. The lawsuit alleges that the YMCA is violating the federal American with Disabilities Act, the federal Rehabilitation Act and Ohio law by not attempting to make “reasonable accommodations” for Steven.
According to Denise Watts, the YMCA would not allow her son Steven to attend a summer camp and the suggested that he instead go to a summer camp with programming designed for children with disabilities.
Watts said that Steven “never responded well to special needs environments” and did much better in school when he was allowed to be around other kids his age.
The lawsuit claims that the YMCA is retaliating against Steven because his mother called a state agency following an incident in 2012 where Steven wandered away from YMCA staff and was unsupervised for about 20 minutes. Due to this, funding from the United Way was cut and Watts believes the YMCA is limiting Steven’s participation in its programs because of this.
Richard Ganulin, the lawyer representing Watts, said the YMCA should have hired a behavioral expert to determine if Steven presented too many challenges for employees of a typical summer camp. He claims that no actions similar to this were taken.
The YMCA’s lawyer Curtis Cornett said in a prepared statement, “All of the actions taken by the YMCA toward Ms. Watts’ child were taken with the well-being of the child and others as the primary consideration. The YMCA has at all times acted lawfully and compassionately in its care of Ms. Watts child, and…the YMCA has provided numerous accommodations to her child (and will continue to do so regardless of the filing of today’s lawsuit).”
Ganulin wants the court to order the YMCA to make accommodations for Steven and let him participate in summer camp, in addition to punitive and compensatory damages.
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