Lawsuit: Girl Scout Troop Was Disbanded Over Deaf Member’s Needs
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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (CBS) — A Schaumburg family is suing the Girl Scouts after their daughter’s troop was disbanded.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Megan Runnion, 12, is deaf, and ever since she joined in kindergarten, the Girl Scouts have paid for a sign language interpreter to allow her to take better part in scouting activities.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports
But last fall, as Megan began sixth grade, the Girl Scouts stopped providing interpreters and refused to reinstate them despite pleas from Megan’s mother, Edie Runnion.
After receiving a letter from the disability rights group Equip for Equality and the National Association of the deaf, the Girl Scouts did appoint an interpreter for a rock climbing trip that Megan’s troop took in November. The Girl Scouts also claimed they were in the process of developing a uniform policy on providing and funding an interpreter for Megan, the suit said.
But then, in January, the Girl Scouts abruptly disbanded the troop, and said it was because of Megan’s family’s insistence that they provide interpreter services for Girl Scouts programs and activities, the lawsuit said.
“The troop leaders told Edie Runnion it was her fault that the troop was disbanding, accused her of being selfish by thinking only about Megan and not the other girls in the troop, and said they had been told by the CEO of the Girl Scouts that Edie Runnion’s actions in asking for an interpreter for Megan would cause registration fees for next year to triple.”
The troop leaders also told Megan’s mother that having an interpreter was making Megan “more dependent and disabled,” the lawsuit said.
Megan was not placed in another Girl Scout troop even though her mother asked for new placement, the lawsuit said. Thus, Megan is no longer a Girl Scout, for the first time since kindergarten.
“Megan is heartbroken that she can no longer participate in Girl Scouts,” Edie Runnion said in a news release. “All of the children in our family have been involved in scouting, and it is devastating for Megan that she is being prevented from being a Girl Scout.”
The lawsuit said the Girl Scouts have now set up a policy in which they will pay a maximum of $50 per month for support services for disabled children, such as interpreters, occupational therapists and nurses aides. Under federal law, the disabled or their families are not supposed to have to pay for such accommodations, attorneys said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages, and new policies to ensure that the Girl Scouts will provide and fund accommodations for deaf participants.