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Nondiscrimination Laws Applicable to Public Education Special Education and the Law Winter 2008 Sherrie Brown.

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Presentation on theme: "Nondiscrimination Laws Applicable to Public Education Special Education and the Law Winter 2008 Sherrie Brown."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nondiscrimination Laws Applicable to Public Education Special Education and the Law Winter 2008 Sherrie Brown

2 Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- Section 504 No otherwise qualified individual with a disability... Shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. 29 USC Section 794(a)

3 504 Regulations… Give framework for policies/procedures to implement Section 504 – Must identify students (child find) – Evaluate students – Develop a “plan” which SHOULD be written! – Meet needs to ensure that have same access to educational opportunities as nondisabled students (academic and extracurricular) (FAPE)

4 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Extends protection (nondiscrimination) of Section 504 to private employers, state and local governments, and any privately owned business or facility open to the public. Prohibits discrimination against an individual with disabilities by reason of such disability.

5 ADA includes five substantive areas  Title I:Employment  Title II:Programs and Services of State and Local Government  Title III:Public Services and Facilities Operated by Private Entities Title IV:Telecommunications Title V:Miscellaneous

6 What is important to remember about ADA and schools…. ADA adopted the 504 regulations and judicial standards for the most part. MAJOR EXCEPTION concerns the “causative link between discrimination and adverse action.” Baird v. Rose WITH MINOR EXCEPTIONS no additional obligations on behalf of schools nor provide additional rights to students with disabilities in public schools. – Compliance coordinator – Transition plan All IDEA eligible students are also protected by ADA and 504.

7 Qualified individual is student… Of an age during which nonhandicapped persons are provided such services; Of any age during which it is mandatory under state law to provide such services to handicapped persons; To whom a state is required to provide a FAPE under IDEA – 34 CFR 104.3(k)(2)

8 Who is “disabled” – i.e., protected? Any person who – has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, – has a record of such impairment, or – is regarded as having such an impairment. 34 CFR 104.3(j)(1)

9 Who enforces 504 and ADA in schools? Courts Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in Federal Department of Education (primary interest in procedural compliance) – Technical Assistance – Presentations – Partnership Activities – Response to Inquiries – Complaint Processing – Resolution Between the Parties – Agreement to Resolve – Letter of Finding – Administrative/Judicial proceedings

10 Basic civil rights objectives of Section 504 and ADA End isolation of persons with disabilities Secure equal opportunity Not necessarily identical treatment Equivalent treatment Remove unnecessary barriers through academic adjustments and auxiliary aids Foster independence Prevent a hostile environment OCR. Web Access Considerations under Section 504 & Title II (November 2002).

11 Major Principles Protection from Discrimination Reasonable Modification* Free Appropriate Public Education Program Accessibility Comparable Facilities *see page 130 of Yell

12 Protection from Discrimination Unequal treatment of qualified students solely on the basis of their disability = discrimination Providing services for students without disabilities and not providing them to students with disabilities = discrimination

13 Reasonable Modification Must be provided to ensure that discrimination does not occur. Unless school can prove either undue financial or administrative hardship or fundamental alteration in the program.

14 FAPE FAPE must be provided to qualified students with disabilities. An education must be: – Individualized (IEP is one example but not required) – Equivalent to an education provided to students without disabilities – Developed by a knowledgeable group of persons based on evaluation data – Provided with nondisabled peers (least restrictive environment) to maximum extent appropriate

15 Program Accessibility School programs – academic and nonacademic – must be accessible to students with disabilities. School districts are not required to make all of their schools, or every part of their schools, accessible if their program as a whole is accessible.

16 Comparable Facilities When a school operates a facility for students with disabilities, the facility must be comparable to general education facilities and services.

17 School District Responsibilities Procedural Responsibilities – Appointment of a Section 504 coordinator – Public notification – Grievance procedures – Self-evaluation – Staff training Identified Students – IAP or 504 Plan – Strategies for enabling student to achieve FAPE in the LRE – Related services, aids, specialized instruction as needed

18 Current legal issues Who is protected? Discipline of students who are 504/ADA ONLY Athletics and other extracurricular activities – Reasonable modifications to rules – Provision of auxiliary aids and services Harassment of students with disabilities Overrepresentation of minority students in special education—particularly in discipline

19 Washington State Law Against Discrimination (RCW 49.60) Originally passed in 1949; amended in 1973 to include people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. – Disability had been interpreted by HRC and courts to be broad. – McClarty v. Totem Electric (2006) said no -- ADA definition. – Legislature amended in 2007 to put in statute a broad definition. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodation—i.e., schools except those operated by bona fide religious or sectarian institution. Guarantees students the full enjoyment of the benefits and services from schools—including extracurricular activities. Requires schools to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of the person if they prevent the individual from enjoying the benefits of education. – Unless this creates undue hardship.

20 Differences between RCW 49.60 & ADA Definition of disability. Damages and remedies available are broader—e.g., can receive pain and suffering awards. Employment settings covered include smaller businesses than ADA (8 vs. 15 employees). Complaints can be filed with Washington State Human Rights Commission as administrative remedy.

21 What kinds of school cases brought under ADA and Section 504? Most IDEA cases also charge violation of 504 and ADA. Complaints brought by children only on 504 plans (access to programs) similar to those brought by children on IEPs.

22 Case Examples… Physical access cases: – Washington DC school district sued in 1999 by Freddy Ramirez (9 year old boy with CP) because he couldn’t get his wheelchair through the bathroom door. – Parents and siblings with disabilities sue under 504 because facilities/activities are inaccessible to them (2005 cases) Harassment cases: – Baird v. Rose – KM v. Hyde Pk Central SD (SD NY 2005) Mom claims harassment of son with developmental disabilities by peers – Scruggs v. Meridien Bd. of Education (D Conn. 2005) Suicide of student because of bullying by peers

23 Cases continued… Evaluation/Discipline: – Seattle SD No. 1 (OCRX 2005) Violation of 504 because SSD denied student with bipolar disorder an evaluation on basis of academic achievement in regular education Expelled from one school and when school learned of his disability, should have done evaluation.


25 Examples of Harassment that could create a Hostile Environment Several students continually remark out loud to others that a student with dyslexia is “retarded” or deaf and dumb” and does not belong in class. A student places classroom furniture in the path of a classmate who uses a wheelchair on a regular basis. A teacher repeatedly belittles and criticizes a student for using modifications/aids in class. Involving or attempting to involve an individual with limited comprehension in dangerous or criminal activity.

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