A complaint has been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice saying the city and its housing authority discriminated against a 12-year-old disabled girl.
Debbie Hoggan, Ogden, said the city and housing authority violated federal law by placing discriminatory conditions on her daughter's enrollment in a summer recreation program. Hoggan said she mailed the complaint Friday.Although the program ended this week, Hoggan said she wants to be certain her daughter or other disabled children get equal treatment in future years.
But the main point of the complaint, Hoggan said, was to call attention to the lack of summer programs in the Ogden area for physically limited children.
The city and housing authority deny Hoggan's charge of discrimination.
"We did try everything we could to help that little girl," said Jennie Montoya, director of the housing authority, a federal agency not part of the city. "It was up to the city, really. But we backed up the city."
Hoggan's daughter Mandy had enrolled in June in the Summer Fun Club, a federally funded program run by the housing authority at the city-owned Marshall White Center in central Ogden. The two-month program provides supervised activities from arts and crafts to games, sports and field trips, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Hoggan said city officials ordered Mandy out of the program the first day she attended and placed five conditions on her return.
The family declined to meet all the conditions, and Mandy did not return.
Officials say the conditions were necessary due to Mandy's medical and personal needs and were not discriminatory.
The city's position was that a parent or guardian had to be with Mandy at all times during the program to assist her with medical and personal needs.
The Hoggans also needed to sign a waiver releasing the city and the authority from liability and provide a physician's statement of activities appropriate for Mandy.
Although Mandy can walk, her mother says she suffers from a compressed spine that paralyzes her bowels and bladder, necessitating a diaper. She needs assistance to change the diaper.
The federal Americans With Disabilities Acts requires that public programs accept disabled persons but specifically exempts programs from having to provide personal or medical services.
Randy Dipner, project director of the Rocky Mountain Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, said if the Department of Justice believes discrimination has occurred, representatives will try to negotiate changes in future policy with the city and the authority.
Whatever the outcome, Hoggan said, there is a need for more programs such as those begun in recent years in Salt Lake County, where programs for the disabled include adaptive sports programs, day treatment camps, on-site recreation programs at housing authority complexes and a rec-reation therapy program for substance abusers.