Mother files grievance over sports accommodations for students with disabilities

by Autumn Evans

A Town of Niagara mother has filed a grievance with the Niagara-Wheatfield School District over alleged discrimination against her son, a child with a disability.

Gidget Cannon told the school board Sept. 3 that when her 14-year-old son, who has Asperger's syndrome, was cut from the junior varsity football team in August, she was stunned. She met with the team's coach to discuss the issue, and was told her son did poorly on speed and agility tests and did not learn new plays quickly. Cannon was skeptical.

"After all, they only had three days of practice," she told the board. "They couldn't possibly know what he could do without putting him in a helmet and pads."

Cannon asked the coach if he had used her son's Individualized Education Plan. The coach said the IEP only applied to academics. Cannon said she believed the lack of using the IEP to be a violation of her son's civil rights.

When Cannon called Lenore Luciano, director of special education at N-W, Luciano also told her the IEP did not apply to sports, she said.

Cannon asked the director about a directive sent out by the Department of Education in August 2011, regarding Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, which says schools are required to allow students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular activities, with reasonable accommodations.

"To my surprise, she admitted that she had never heard of this document," Cannon said. She said Luciano told her the issue would have to be handled by the incoming special education director, because of Luciano's retirement at the end of August.

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Fashion Outlets expansion to open in October

Macerich, one of the nation's leading owners, operators and developers of major retail properties, announced this week that Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA will open the doors of its planned expansion on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Grand opening festivities will be held Thursday, Nov. 6, to Sunday, Nov. 9.

The new expansion in the Town of Niagara delivers nearly 175,000 square feet and will open with 35 new tenants, and more to come in 2015. The outlet center will grow to approximately 700,000 square feet and more than 200 top retail names, making Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA one of the largest outlet malls in the country.

Anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue OFF Fifth, more than 75 percent of the expansion is leased to a mix of new outlet brands, including Disney, Talbots, Vera Bradley, Forever 21, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Swarovski, White House Black Market and many others to the existing roster of Kate Spade, Barbour, Michael Kors, J. Crew, Hugo Boss, Barneys New York, Brooks Brothers, Cole Haan and more.

"This significant new expansion of Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls arrives just in time for the holiday season and further positions this exceptional property as the dominant outlet attraction in the region," said Randy Brant, executive vice president - real estate, Macerich. "Macerich is delivering on its outlet strategy to bring exciting retail experiences, rewarding values and the best fashion brands to guests from around the world. Top-quality outlet properties are a growing focus for retailers and for our company."

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