LANSING—State Sen. Tom Casperson says Dean and Eric Dompierre of Ishpeming will testify in Lansing on Wednesday.
The father and son, who have brought to national light the failings of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s (MHSAA) antiquated age eligibility policy, will highlight the issue before the Senate Education Committee.
The Dompierres will be speaking on behalf of more than 90,000 people who have signed a petition demanding that the MHSAA adopt an equitable policy like the one 23 other states have embraced, which balances the special needs of disabled students with the need to protect the integrity of high school sports.
Casperson introduced Senate Resolution 145 last week, calling on the MHSAA to adopt a policy that allows an age-eligibility waiver in certain, limited cases. Michigan students currently cannot compete in high school sports if they are older than 19 before September 1.
According to Casperson, Eric Dompierre’s situation highlights the need for the rule change, which is why he has received such tremendous support. Eric, who has a love for football and basketball, is a junior at Ishpeming High School and has Down syndrome, which led to his being held back in junior kindergarten and first grade.
“I am pleased that both Eric and his father Dean will be able to testify on the resolution,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While having a committee hearing on a resolution is not the norm, neither has been the outcry over this case. Consequently, I am grateful that Senator Pavlov was willing to take this step in the quest to help Eric and other Michigan high school students in similar situations. Participation in sports has been a key component of Eric’s success and that of thousands of student athletes across the state.”
Casperson said MHSAA’s age policy is a well-intentioned but outdated rule that unnecessarily punishes students with disabilities who sometimes reach high school at an older age through no fault of their own.
“This is the only rule that is not subject to a waiver,” he said. “Waiving the age requirement for these students will contribute to their growth and confidence while ensuring the integrity of high school sports. Twenty-three other states have found a fair accommodation for disabled students and it is past time that Michigan does the same.”
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, May 2, at noon in the Senate Hearing Room of Boji Tower in Lansing. The meeting will be streamed live on Senate television and can be viewed at http://senate.michigan.gov/tvschedule/tvlive.htm.