Student with disability excluded from school experiences

A well-known rite of passage in Oregon public schools is participating in Outdoor School. According to a study commissioned by the Oregon Community Foundation, in the 2011-2012 school year about 12% of Oregon fifth graders and about 50% of Oregon sixth graders participated in an Outdoor School program.

Yet, one student, despite attending an elementary school that offers outdoor school, may not be able to participate in the program due to her school’s inability to accommodate her disability, according to a story aired on KATU TV. Bryten Figgins, a sixth grader at Clackamas River Elementary, has been excluded from all class field trips the past two school years due to the failure of her school to provide accommodations for her. Bryten has Osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. Her mother, Teryl Figgins, is passionate about Bryten’s right to participate in a traditional school experience, and to bond with her classmates. Figgins has been advocating that her daughter be allowed to attend Outdoor School with her classmates. However, the school will not provide the necessary aid for Bryten, despite Oregon law requiring that all students be given equal opportunities. The school cites worry over the possibility of Bryten being injured during the trip.

What do you think should be done in this situation? Is the school justified? How can Bryten fulfill her desire to share a common experience with her classmates?

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted in Rights.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.

One response to “Student with disability excluded from school experiences

  1. Because Mom put together a compromise that included staying off site, providing her own support staff, taking an ATV, etc, the school allowed Bryten to participate in ODS. However, at no point should this child have been banned. The school knew for 7 years that she would be in 6th grade this year. As of May 2014 the school was scheduled to utilize an accessible facility. The school claims it was a “safety” decision because they were afraid Bryten night get hurt, but failed to communicate with the childs physician or family, who had cleared her for participation. This is clearly a case of discrimination. Thankfully Mom advocated and got the child to ODS part time as a “visitor” and she had a wonderful experience!

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