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Bits & Pieces: Howard has been out in front on issue of including disabled students in sports

The ruling by the U.S. Department of Education last week that mandates that all schools must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide alternative options did not cause much concern here in Howard County, or the state of Maryland for that matter.

Why?

Because all school systems in Maryland already are in full compliance with the ruling and have been for many years. The Howard County Public School System was ordered by U.S. District Court judge Andre Davis in April of 2006 to allow then Atholton sophomore Tatyana McFadden to compete in high school track meets against her able-bodied peers.

He based his ruling in part on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. I recall that when county Coordinator of Athletics Mike Williams was asked about the ruling he commented to the effect that we will comply with the judge's ruling even though the Department of Education at that time was against it. And indeed the county did.

In fact, the county's school sports programs have been recognized by national organizations for promoting and protecting the rights of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

McFadden, meanwhile, went on to win three gold medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.

Things, however, didn't go as smoothly elsewhere.

Nationally, there were rulings in various districts and states against any inclusion of students with disabilities in their school athletic programs. This ruling covers all school systems in all 50 states.

Some now believe that this ruling may rival Title IX in importance. What it will do is cause school districts who have no programs to accommodate students with disabilities to devise new programs at additional costs. I recommend that they use the Howard County program as a model.

More like the Snack Bowl

I wonder what would happen to the sales of tortilla chips and salsa if the Super Bowl would be canceled for one reason or another. Every grocery store that I go to prior to the game has tons of chips and dips on display almost from the moment you walk into the store. I have seen some statistics that show that more salsa is sold for the Super Bowl than for any other event; more than for the 4th of July and more than even Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo.

I might add that beer, soda,  chips, buffalo wings and other snack sales probably also go up. So does the weight of many of the people watching others exercise while dipping and eating.

Metric Marathon moved to September

The Howard County Striders are moving the Metric Marathon to September this year. Normally held in November, this year's event will be shifted to Sept. 29 in an attempt to avoid November's bad weather. This is a full Metric Marathon complete with a 10k/10-mile component.

Brown to be honored

It's not often that Howard County has seen an athlete the caliber of Zach Brown.

The 2007 Wilde Lake High School graduate, and 2012 second-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans, will be honored Friday, Feb. 1, at 6:45 p.m. before the Wildecats basketball game against visiting River Hill.

Brown, who played his college ball at the University of North Carolina, finished his rookie season with 93 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), and a fumble recovery which won a game against the Jets on Monday Night Football.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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