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.
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.
Jerry Hanley of Shelbyville, Ky. |
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
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.
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