A New Haven Pop Warner youth football league is under fire for kicking off a series of youth with learning disabilities after they turned in their most recent report cards.
At the heart of the issue is recognition of Individualized Education Program (IEP) report cards, which are frequently issued to students with learning disabilities or other issues.
As reported by Hartford Fox affiliate WTIC, the first player to come forward complaining about the dismissal was Amadi Towe, of the Pop Warner Steelers League’s fourth grade division. Towe was entering his sixth season in the league when he was told that he was kicked off the team. Towe’s mother, Nijija-ife Waters, said her son has always been allowed to compete in the league so long as he submitted his IEP report cards.
No sooner than Towe had come forward than he learned of a similar athlete facing banishment. Eight-year-old Kevin Blackman also reportedly was kicked off his team in the Steelers League following the submission of an IEP report card.
Per Waters, Towe’s suspension may have been the result of regional Pop Warner officials simply not understanding what an IEP report card is. And when Steelers League president Reggie Lytle scheduled a meeting with the Southern Connecticut Pop Warner executive board to explain the academic situation this week, he found it was canceled before he could attend.
“They refused to meet with me, I got a text canceling the meeting, I wanted to explain what an IEP is and some of the laws, but I never had the opportunity,” Lytle told WTIC.
There’s no immediate timetable on when the situation could be resolved. For now, the two young football players are stuck on the sideline, waiting for their rightly earned invitation to return to competition.