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Pennsylvania Wheelchair and Para Ambulatory Athletes May Now Compete In Track And Field

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EASTEND Trail Group

In a groundbreaking vote on March 22, 2023, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) adopted a modified version of a proposal from Alex Brown (North Catholic) and Trent Clayton (West Chester East) to allow students with disabilities to compete at PIAA’s annual Track and Field Championships.

The vote comes almost two years after East End Trial Group filed a class action complaint on Alex and Trent’s behalf, asserting PIAA violated Titles II and III of the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by limiting postseason eligibility to “able-bodied athletes.”

Athlete Alex Brown (North Catholic), Athlete Trent Clayton, and Attorney Kevin TuckerIn addition to removing the able-only language from its policies, PIAA’s Board of Directors approved the creation of new divisions for boys and girls track and field. Beginning in 2023, athletes may now compete in up to six events as part of new Wheelchair and Para Ambulatory Divisions.

According to attorney Kevin Tucker, whose firm represented Alex and Trent pro bono, “these changes give students with disabilities access to competitive opportunities that didn’t exist in Pennsylvania before Alex and Trent demanded equality. Now, for the first time, a uniform process exists through which Wheelchair and Para Ambulatory Athletes can qualify for district and state championships, earn individual and team medals, and set state records. In addition to the values of competition and teamwork, the new system will also expose students with disabilities to a growing number of opportunities to compete collegiately, including the chance to earn athletic scholarships and NIL deals, like their classmates.”

Read the full Policy Regarding The Participation Of Para Ambulatory And Wheelchair Athletes In The Sport Of Outdoor Track And Field on page 123.

If you have questions about competing in the new Wheelchair or Para Ambulatory Divisions, contact your school’s track & field coaches, principal, or athletic director. The attorneys at East End Trial are also happy to answer any questions you may have about these changes or your legal rights.

Athletes Alex Brown (North Catholic) and Trent Clayton,
and Attorney Kevin Tucker

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Read more about the lawsuit
East Trial Group
CBS NEWS Pittsburgh

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