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Published: Friday, 9/17/2004

Athlete loses court bid for eligibility

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ingram: first-team All-City last season. Ingram: first-team All-City last season.
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Defensive tackle David Ingram yesterday lost his bid to return to the Start High School football team for tonight's game against Whitmer, and likely won't play football again.

U.S. District Court Judge David Katz refused a request for a temporary restraining order against Toledo Public Schools to change Mr. Ingram's grade on an English exam and restore his academic eligibility.

Mr. Ingram could not be reached for comment.

But Nancy Mohler, the mother of the 18-year-old Start senior, said her son was deeply disappointed that he could not rejoin the team.

"David is very distraught. He has been very emotional about the whole case," Ms. Mohler said.

Mr. Ingram, who has a learning disability, sued the school district after he learned in August that he flunked a required English class last spring.

In failing the subject, he dropped his grade-point average for the quarter to below the Ohio High School Athletic Association's minimum of 1.0, which he needed to participate in extracurricular activities.

He claimed that during the final exam for the English class, the school failed to provide a tutor and other accommodations that the district makes available for special-needs students.

The accommodations were part of Mr. Ingram's individual education plan that is mandated for students who have learning disabilities.

However, Judge Katz agreed with school officials that the burden to provide learning-disabled students with accommodations for tests falls on the students to ask for the extra measures.

Judge Katz said Mr. Ingram was thoroughly acquainted with procedures of the learning-disabled program, and used tutors throughout the quarter for his classes.

Mr. Ingram "was warned by his English teacher, his tutor, and his counselor that he was failing or in danger of failing fourth-quarter English, and took no affirmative steps on his own to remedy or attempt to remedy the situation," Judge Katz said in his decision.

Mr. Ingram, who was a first-team All-City defensive lineman, claimed the English teacher reneged on a promise that he if he retook the test and passed he would receive a passing grade.

After Mr. Ingram retook the test and passed, the teacher credited him for taking the class, but didn't change his overall grade in the class to restore his academic eligibility for sports.

Thomas Zraik, an attorney representing Mr. Ingram, said a hearing would be scheduled for next week before a state Department of Education officer on the issue of whether the district failed to provide the tutor and other accommodations.

"David certainly has some responsibility for not getting his work done. But the school district failed in their responsibility to implement his [individual education plan] so that somebody was on him to ensure that it got done," Mr. Zraik said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6009.



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