Recognition of Dompierres, school very appropriate

It isn’t often that government gets it right the first time around but that’s the case with an award given last week to the Dompierre family and the Ishpeming Public Schools by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Last Friday, the Dompierres and school received a civil rights award for their campaign last year to change Michigan High School Athletic Association rules to make high school sports more accessible for Michigan students with disabilities.

The matter was detailed in a story in Saturday’s Mining Journal penned by Staff Writer Zach Jay.

The battle the Dompierre family and school waged last year and in 2011 with the Michigan High School Athletic Association to obtain a waiver allowing Eric Dompierre to play high school sports is, by this time, well known in this area.

MHSAA age limitation rule says that any student who turns 19 on or before Sept. 1 is ineligible to participate in school sports.

Eric, who has Down syndrome, turned 19 prior to the start of the 2012 football season but ultimately got to sport his blue and white Hematites jersey his senior year after the MHSAA finally voted overwhelmingly to allow him to submit an application for an age waiver in June 2012, and granted his waiver in August.

Additionally, as our story stated, the battle to allow Eric to play was documented in an episode of Sports Illustrated’s “Underdogs” online video series. The Dompierre episode – titled “The Heart of the Team” – won the online voting contest, and as a prize, the Ishpeming High School athletic department received a $25,000 grant and the football team received an invitation for 10 players to fly to New York City, all expenses paid, to attend SI’s “Sportsman of the Year” event.

Keeping with the idea that the trip should be a team event, the Hematites and their supporters raised funds so the entire varsity team could make the trip by bus.

We congratulate the Dompierre family and school for the perseverance they displayed in the face of adversity.

And the state civil rights commission also deserves a high five for recognizing it.