Mother discusses violation of Disabilities Act

  • Phoebe Burch, and Amalia Rubinstein, who play Lady Montague and Juliet, and the nurse, respectively, in the upcoming Young Shakespeare Players' production of Romeo and Juliet, rehearse a scene at the Shea theater in Turners Falls Sunday, May 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MONTAGUE — Ali Wicks-Lim, who filed a complaint against the Young Shakespeare Players East for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), said the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent findings that the theater group violated the act “was a vindication for our children.”

Wicks-Lim’s son has a severe peanut allergy and two years ago, when he was enrolled in the theater program, she had asked that the adults working with the children be trained on how to use the Epi-pen, in case her son had an allergy attack. The director, Suzanne Rubinstein, said she couldn’t guarantee an adult would always be present to administer the medication, and Wicks-Lim did not sign a waiver without assurance that her son’s condition would be accommodated. Therefore, her son was not enrolled and another child, who advocated for her son, was dropped from the program.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office determined the theater group discriminated against a child with a disability as a result of a peanut allergy, by failing to make reasonable modifications to its policies.

In a settlement agreement, YSPE is to implement a disability non-discrimination policy, implement a process by which reasonable modifications will be considered and provide appropriate training.

Wicks-Lim remarked that “that vindication of the right to inclusion came at a huge personal cost to our children and families.” She said complaints about the incident are still pending with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

“In the meantime, both children (Mason Wicks-Lim, and his friend, Sam Picone-Louro) involved with the case have received awards from national and local disability rights groups, for their work on behalf of people with disabilities,” said Wicks-Lim. “It is not easy work, but all civil rights struggles are difficult for those who are actively fighting for inclusion.”