Thursday, September 05, 2002

Scout's ouster has mom in knots

Troop can't handle autistic boy

By The Associated Press

        SHELBYVILLE, Ky. - A mother who says her 11-year-old autistic son was kicked out of the Boy Scouts is fighting to get him reinstated.

        Jerry Hanley is at the center of a case that has raised questions about whether a child with special needs can be barred from the private organization.

[photo] Jerry Hanley of Shelbyville, Ky.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        The matter has caught the attention of the Louisville-based Metro United Way, which provides funding for the local Boy Scout council, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

        The Lincoln Heritage Council, the umbrella group for troops in the region, said Jerry wasn't dismissed because of his disability. In a statement Wednesday, the Lincoln Heritage Council said Robin Hanley neglected to “fully inform the troop and the summer camp leaders of her son's specific condition and likely abnormal behaviors.”

        “While the troop leaders were generally aware of Jerry's autism, they had no more than a layperson's understanding of potential limitations or impairments, and no training in dealing with an autistic youth,” said Marc Reynerson, Scout executive of the Lincoln Heritage Council.

        The council offered to put Jerry into a special-needs troop.

        But that option is being rejected by Ms. Hanley, the newspaper reported.

        Jerry attends mostly mainstream classes at his middle school, but low muscle tone keeps him from writing fast enough, or playing basketball and other sports. He is taking medication to control his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

        The state's Department of Public Advocacy has told Ms. Hanley that there would likely be no legal grounds for a discrimination complaint against the Boy Scouts, a private organization.

        Melissa Bowman, an attorney with the agency's division of protection and advocacy, compared the case to the Supreme Court's ruling two years ago that the Boy Scouts could bar a gay troop leader.

        Still, Ms. Bowman expressed disappointment about the situation.

        “I really don't think it should take a law for the Boy Scouts to be inclusive,” she said.

        Ms. Hanley said a scoutmaster told her at a troop meeting in late August that Jerry had been kicked out of the troop.

        Mr. Reynerson called the case “a private situation” that must be resolved by the scoutmaster and the Hanleys.

        But the tension appears to be rooted in a weeklong camp at Bernheim in June, according to Ms. Hanley. She said a Heritage Council representative told her that Jerry frustrated the scoutmaster after repeatedly soiling himself because he felt uncomfortable using the outdoor latrines.

        A scoutmaster has final say on who can be in the troop, said Greg Shields, spokesman for the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America. He suggested Ms. Hanley and Jerry's supporters start their own troop.

        Metro United Way, which gave a half-million dollars to the council last year for Scout programs and infrastructure, has been apprised of the situation, said its president, Joe Tolan. He said he's confident a resolution can be reached.


Prosecutors defend Twitty grand juror
Rules offer insights on grand jury
Deputy's wife reflects on job's danger
Fox interchange wins some help from ODOT
Fall fashion show put off
Hagan's a candidate with a plan
Hoods again allowed in city
Obituary: West side mourns W.J. Seitz
Sabin planners seek breather
School hopefuls coming
Six charged in attack on bus
Tristate A.M. Report
HOWARD: Some Good News
PULFER: Stalking Jungle Jim
RADEL: Something to cheer
Blanket-making teaches teamwork
Pisgah revitalization outlined
Drug charges revived after court decision
Sex offender sentenced to two years
Shooting hearing delayed
Thousands may return to Ohio welfare rolls
Twins battled each other, now ready for life apart
Birth-control change sought
Covington to help fund zone study
Driver rescued from car in creek
Elk roaming outside eastern Ky. fair game
FreshART to raise money, expectations
NKU spearheads drive to improve health
- Scout's ouster has mom in knots
Sewer agency is writing rules
U.S. Senate honors top Little League baseball team