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Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Posts Tagged ‘ADA’

Parents’ retaliation allegation supersedes child abuse reporter confidentiality

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Grummons v. Williamson County Board of Education, 63 IDELR 61 (M.D. Tenn. 2014):  The parents of a student with a disability convinced a federal magistrate judge to supersede a state’s child abuse reporting confidentiality provisions.  The parents, suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, alleged that the school district reported them to the department of children’s services (DCS) in retaliation for the parents’ challenge to the district’s provision of special education services.  The court deemed the information relevant, but in order to balance the interest of confidential reporting, the requested information (namely, the identity of the individual(s) who submitted the report to DCS) would be disclosed to the parents, but was limited for use in the instant litigation and could only be disseminated on a “good faith need to know” basis.

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ADA presents different compliance responsibilities than the IDEA

Monday, December 9th, 2013

K.M. v. Tustin Unified School District, 61 IDELR 182 (9th Cir. 2013): A federal Court of Appeals held that a school district’s responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are, in certain instances, separate and distinct.

The plaintiffs were two students with hearing loss who received services under the auspices of an Individual Education Program (IEP).  Both students requested but were denied realtime transcription services for their academic programs, on the rationale that their IEPs provided them with sufficient educational benefit.  The lower court dismissed the students’ ADA claims, considering them coextensive with their IDEA claims.

The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court, noting that ADA regulations can impose separate and distinct compliance obligations when compared to the IDEA (and Section 504) free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements.  Specifically, the ADA establishes certain communication standards each public agency must meet to ensure “equal opportunity” for communication.  Such a standard may be over and above, and distinct from, that which is required by the IDEA.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s finding that the students’ ADA claims were precluded by finding no denial of FAPE.

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District’s awareness of ongoing bullying triggers duty to investigate under Section 504 and the ADA

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Sutherlin v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 40 of Nowata Cty., Okla., 61 IDELR 69 (N.D. Okla. 2013)—in this case, the parents of a thirteen year old student with Asperger’s brought suit against the school district. Among other things, the parents alleged that the district acted with deliberate indifference when it failed to follow its own policy to investigate allegations of bullying, by failing to respond to reports of at least 32 incidents. The parents alleged incidents of student-on-student bullying, through the use of name-calling and labeling the student based on his difficulties with socialization. Although finding the allegations insufficient to support a claim of district discrimination, the court found that the complaint sufficiently alleged deliberate indifference with regards to disability-based, student-on-student harassment under the ADA and Section 504. Also, the court found a basis for a claim based on the Equal Protection Clause and municipal liability. On those grounds, the parents were allowed to proceed with their claims against the district for disability-based harassment.

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After Parent withdrew consent to provide special education and related services under IDEA, the District satisfied its 504 FAPE obligations by convening a meeting to develop a 504 plan

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Kimble ex rel. B.K. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. RE-1, 60 IDELR 221 (D. Colo. 2013)—in this case, the student had been receiving special education and related services pursuant to an IEP. In response to receiving the proposed IEP for the next school year, the parents formally revoked their consent to the District providing special education and related services to their child. The Director of Special Education informed the parents (erroneously) that by withdrawing consent for services under IDEA, the parents effectively withdrew consent for those services under a 504 plan. Nevertheless, the District convened a 504 meeting at the parents’ request and offered a 504 plan “to implement the services as identified” in the previously rejected IEP. The parent who rejected the Section 504 plan but continued to seek accommodations under Section 504 filed a due process complaint, alleging discrimination under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA. The court held that revocation of parental consent to provide IDEA services does not eliminate the District’s obligations under Section 504 and the ADA. However, here the District convened a 504 meeting and proposed a 504 plan. Thus, the parents cannot hold the District liable for discrimination by not providing accommodations that they rejected under the 504 plan.

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School must provide assistive listening devices to individuals with hearing impairments, as well as provide information as to how to obtain such accommodations.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Los Angeles County (CA) Office of Education, 57 IDELR 294 (OCR 2011):  The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) found a school district in violation of Section 504 for its failure to make assistive listening devices (ALDs) available to individuals with hearing impairments, as well as its failure to provide sufficient information to the public regarding how ALDs can be obtained.

The district renovated some of its facilities by installing new public address systems in an auditorium and board meeting room.  As part of the renovations, the district secured ALDs for such public address systems.  However, the district needed to ensure that a sufficient number of permanently installed ALDs were available for each venue.  The district remedied the deficiency by installing more ALDs.

Additionally, the district agreed to post information at each venue explaining how anyone in need of an ALD may obtain one.  Similarly, the district agreed to disseminate information on its website and to parents, students, staff, and the public, regarding how anyone in need of an ALD may obtain one (including which staff member was designated as coordinating the district’s compliance with Section 504 and the ADA).  Once complete, the district’s noncompliance would be remedied.

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Department of Justice amends regulations implementing the ADA.

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The federal Department of Justice adopted amendments to its regulations implementing Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The amendments include a definition of “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  This includes individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals trained to perform specific tasks, but any animal used purely for emotional support is not a service animal.

The regulations also establish performance standards for video remote interpreting (VRI), requiring training of users of the technology (which uses video conference technology as an interpreting service) so that a VRI system may be quickly and efficiently established when necessary.

Additionally, the amended regulations establish certain requirements regarding the sale of tickets for accessible seating, including requiring venue operators to accommodate individuals who acquired inaccessible seats on a secondary ticket market but only when the venue has unsold accessible seating for that event.  Similarly, places of lodging are required to allow individuals with disabilities to make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as other guests.  Places of lodging should ensure that accessible guest rooms are removed from reservation systems until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented so that accessible rooms are not inadvertently released to someone other than the person who reserved the room.

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School district violated Section 504 and ADA after refusing to evaluate a student who (despite good grades) should have been suspected of having a disability

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Miller County (GA) School District, 56 IDELR 53 (OCR 2010): The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determined that a school district violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) after it refused to evaluate a student, diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder (who was achieving good grades).  OCR stated that a student’s good grades, may not, by itself, be a sufficient indication of whether or not a student is substantially limited as to the major life activity of learning.  A school district should also consider a student’s ability to interact with others, a student’s ability to control his or her behavior, a student’s school attendance, and a student’s ability to participate in the education program.

OCR concluded that the parent’s verbal request for the student to be evaluated put the school district on notice that the student was a person believed to need special education and related services.  Since eligibility decisions are to be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the special education coordinator should not have unilaterally denied the parent’s request for an evaluation.  The school district also failed to provide the parent with her procedural due process rights.

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School’s alleged condoning of peer harassment and bullying provides basis to pursue Section 504 and ADA claims.

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

M.Y. v. Grand River Academy, 54 IDELR 255 (N.D. Ohio 2010):  A U.S. District Court denied a school’s motion to dismiss Section 504 and ADA claims.  A student with Aspeger’s Syndrome sued a school for money damages alleging discrimination under Section 504 and the ADA.  The student claimed that the school had a policy of allowing upperclassmen to punish and haze younger students while the administration looked the other way, and that, as a student with a disability, he was punished more harshly than non-disabled students.

The student further alleged that the bullying and harassment at the hands of his peers included physical assaults, which resulted in the student’s depression and threats to harm himself.  The Court, assuming these allegations are true as part of its determination of a motion to dismiss, determined that the allegations were sufficient to allow the student’s case to proceed.

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