- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita sports league plans to begin awarding varsity athletic letters to disabled students that are the same as those given to other athletes at their high schools.

Bryan Wilson, chairman of The Tri-County Sports League, said Wednesday that sophomore, junior and seniors who play in the league will get the varsity letters, starting before the end of this school year.

The issue drew attention recently when the mother of a Wichita East High student who has Down syndrome said he was told to remove a jacket with a varsity letter she had purchased. Wichita school district officials have said no one asked the East High School student not to wear the jacket, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1ITyCcb ).

The student’s parents, Jolinda Kelley and Tonda McGrath, are pushing for a districtwide policy requiring schools to award varsity athletic letters to students who participate on special-needs teams.

Wilson has said letters for Tri-County athletes likely will include a pin or some mark identifying the students as being part of the Tri-County league but the letter will be the same as those awarded to varsity athletes at each school.

Five Wichita high schools and several area schools participate in the Tri-County league, which offers soccer, basketball and cheerleading teams. Levy Special Education Center and the Chisholm Life Skills Center, a school-to-work transition program for young adults, also participate.

Under a draft proposal, freshmen in the Tri-County league would get a certificate of participation. Those in 10th grade and beyond who suit up for at least 70 percent of games and practices and demonstrate good effort and sportsmanship will get a letter, he said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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