COACH's Pop Quiz!
Q: While preparing to open your community’s swimming pool for the summer, you review your pool rules. You want to prevent kids from drowning by requiring them to be responsibly supervised when using the pool. Local ordinances stipulate that all children under 14 must be supervised to use a public pool. Which is the least restrictive way to formulate your own rule?
a. Children under age 14 must be supervised by an adult
b. Children under age 14 must be supervised by a parent or adult guardian
c. Non-swimmers must be supervised by a proficient swimmer
A: c. While keeping kids from swimming without proper supervision is a legitimate safety purpose, the key to fair housing compliance is to create a rule that will accomplish the purpose in the least restrictive way possible. The third formulation is the least restrictive because it boils things down to the essentials—non-swimmers must be supervised by swimmers—without regard to age or family relationships. So, c. is the right answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. This isn’t a terrible choice because it mirrors the local ordinance in setting the age at which supervision is needed at under 14. But HUD and courts are free to question whether a local requirement is reasonable. The more significant problem with the rule is that it requires supervision by “an adult,” which unreasonably excludes people ages 17 and under from supervising even if they’re capable of doing so. This could come into play if, say, it prevents a 13-year-old tenant from swimming with his 17-year-old lifeguard brother unless somebody 18 is around to supervise him.
b. Choice b. is even worse because it requires supervision by not only an adult but one who’s a parent or legal guardian, which unreasonably excludes siblings, babysitters, friends, and non-parental relatives, even if they’re crackerjack swimmers.
For more guidance on how to avoid setting pool rules that run afoul of fair housing law, see our April lesson, “How to Avoid Setting Discriminatory Swimming Pool Rules,” available to subscribers here.