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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Maryland Day Camp to Ensure Equal Rights for Children with Epilepsy

The Justice Department signed a settlement agreement today with Camp Bravo, a day camp that operates in Towson, Maryland, just outside Baltimore.  The settlement resolves allegations that Camp Bravo violated a child’s civil rights by denying her admission to the camp because she has epilepsy, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Because the child would need emergency medication administered if she were to have a prolonged or acute repetitive seizure, Camp Bravo denied her admission.  Though the medication, Diastat, is designed to be administered by trained laypersons and could save the child’s life, Camp Bravo would not permit non-medical staff to administer the medication and later refused to permit the camp nurse to accompany the child on field trips or bus rides.  As a result, the child was not able to attend Camp Bravo for two consecutive summers.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private camps and child care programs.  Under the ADA, such entities must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices or procedures when necessary to provide equal access to a child with a disability, unless a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services.  It generally will be a reasonable modification required by title III of the ADA for certain public accommodations, such as camps and child care programs, to train laypersons to administer Diastat.

“Equal access to camps and child care programs is essential to children and parents across the country,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “These programs allow children with disabilities to learn and play with their peers and develop important social skills.  The Civil Rights Division will not allow the exclusion of children with seizure disorders where life-saving medication can be safely administered by trained laypersons.”

“Federal law prohibits businesses from discriminating against children with disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland.

Under the agreement, Camp Bravo will admit the child for all future camp sessions of the child’s choosing, as long as she is of eligible age, and will pay $8,000 to the family to compensate them for Camp Bravo’s failure to admit the child when she previously applied.  In addition, Camp Bravo will train its staff on the ADA and, if a child with epilepsy is enrolled in the camp, on epilepsy and seizures.  The camp will also adopt and enforce a nondiscrimination policy, as well as an emergency anti-seizure medication administration policy and procedure.  The department will monitor Camp Bravo’s compliance with the agreement for three years.

ADA enforcement is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of camps and child care programs under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.  ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint/.

Updated August 4, 2015