A settlement has been reached between Dawn and Carl LeGere, the Niskayuna Central School District and the Niskayuna Rowing club after claims from the LeGere’s that their son was treated unfairly by coaches during a rowing program. During the summer of 2015, the LeGere’s son took part in a Learn to Row program and was signed up for a “fall 2015 freshman/novice rowing program.” According to details of the lawsuit, the novice program was “available to all 10th- to 12-graders and some ninth-graders as a “ ‘no cut’ pay to play sport.”
So what was the problem? Well, the LeGere’s filed a lawsuit last summer, claiming that the rowing coaches “excluded or discriminated against their son based on his disability, making “generalizations and assumptions” about the boy’s ability.” Additionally, they also claimed that the same coaches relegated their 10th-grade son to the “seventh- and eighth-grade modified team when he’d signed up to row in the age-appropriate program.”
When the settlement was announced, the couple was “very satisfied with the outcome,” according to the family’s attorney. They’re also eager to see how the school and rowing club move forward, as part of the settlement included an agreement that the district and Niskayuna Rowing would implement policy changes and training to ensure that all children feel welcomed. That being said, “the club is looking forward to continuing its operations and helping kids learn to love rowing.”
Among the policy changes Niskayuna Rowing agreed to include adding “a statement on inclusiveness and non-discrimination to its protocols and requiring training for coaches concerning the inclusion of students with disabilities.” Included in the agreement was also “no admission of wrongdoing by either party.” Additionally, the LeGere family received a $16,000 payout to cover legal fees. That’s all the money the couple wanted because they wanted to see policy changes “more than anything else.” According to Joseph Castiglione, the family’s attorney, “that was really the thrust of my clients’ concern, ensuring that changes were put in place to address the concerns of their child going forward.”
For the time being, Castiglione will keep tabs on the progress being made at the school district and rowing club. A spokesperson for the school district recently announced that “all the provisions involving the district have either been addressed or are to be completed.” But what kind of provisions was the district required to abide by? Well for starters, they’re now required to have “a Board of Education member on the rowing board and designate contacts for complaints.”
Changes are even beginning to show at the rowing club. For example, their website now displays a “statement on its main page expressing commitment to maintaining a non-discriminatory and inclusive environment, along with offering related information. The website also lays out how students are placed and an anti-bullying policy.”
For now, we can only hope that other organizations will learn from this event and realize that discrimination of any kind simply has no place in modern society.