Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
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A. Complaint Resolutions
Resolved Through Early Complaint Resolution (ECR)
- A complaint alleged a school district failed to provide appropriate parking to individuals with mobility impairments at an elementary school during the time parents picked up their children from school. School policy required parents to park on the street to retrieve their children. This policy caused individuals with mobility impairments to access the school building by climbing a hill located in the front of the school. The complainant informed OCR that she observed a parent with two artificial limbs struggling up the hill to pick up her child after school. OCR facilitated an agreement between the parties that allowed individuals with disabled parking permits to enter the parking lot during the time it was closed to the general public.
Several individuals with disabilities were able to actually park in the handicap spots today and make it to the school to get their children without major stress of how to get there.
Letter from the complainant
- A complaint alleged that an elementary school teacher failed to implement certain provisions of the Section 504 plan for a student with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) because the student had a high level of intelligence and because the teacher erroneously believed that the Section 504 provisions did not apply to the student. The student’s parents, despite this dispute with the teacher, valued the teacher’s relationship with their daughter. OCR facilitated an early complaint resolution between the parties, enabling the parents to both preserve their relationship with the teacher and address their daughter’s educational needs.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Of the 5,805 complaints received by OCR in FY 2006, 3,511 complaints contained allegations of disability discrimination. Moreover, 1,227 of those complaints concerned the more specific issue of the provision of a free appropriate public education.
- A complaint alleged there were significant delays in a school district’s completion of mental health evaluations for students with suspected disabilities. OCR found that, over a two-year period, district Individual Education Program teams referred 165 students for mental health evaluations. However, evaluation and placement meetings were completed for only 79 of those 165 students and, of those, only two were completed in a timely manner. The average length of time from referral to completion of the evaluation was 6.6 months and, for some students, the time exceeded 12 months. The district agreed to monitor all aspects of referrals and to develop a system to ensure evaluations would be completed on a timely basis so that students received appropriate education services.
I am so grateful for all of your help and guidance. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you ... and all who look out for children.
Letter from the complainant
- A complaint alleged that students with disabilities who rode special education buses had shorter school days than students without disabilities because the special education buses arrived late to school and left early. OCR’s investigation found that the school district’s transportation schedule resulted in shortened school days for special education students without Individualized Education Program justification for a shorter day. Some parents had to resort to driving their children to and from school so that they would not miss instructional time. The district agreed to revise the transportation schedule. The district also agreed to determine which students were entitled to compensatory educational services due to the shortened school days and to provide those services.
- OCR’s investigation found a district conditioned the admission of students with disabilities who would otherwise be eligible for admission to a non-traditional school in the district on the students’ waiver of special education and related services. OCR also found the school district denied students with disabilities admitted to the non-traditional school a free appropriate public education. The district agreed to revise its admission policies and procedures. It also agreed to provide students with disabilities the services necessary for them to receive a free appropriate public education.
- A complaint alleged that a school district failed to provide to a student the occupational therapy and paraprofessional services specified in the student’s Individualized Education Program. In investigating this allegation, OCR discovered that the school district’s practice was to delay the start of these services at the beginning of the school year for all students with disabilities. The district agreed to take steps to ensure that, when education plans required related aids and services, the plans would be implemented and services and aids be delivered as soon as the school year began.
Testing and Examination
- OCR closed the monitoring of a settlement agreement that addressed the provision of accommodations to persons with disabilities taking the General Education Diploma (GED) examination. The complaint alleged a state department of education failed to provide sufficient information and guidance to ensure that an application for necessary accommodation during the GED examination could be processed within a reasonable amount of time. The complaint also alleged that the time and effort required of applicants with disabilities to apply greatly exceeded the time and effort required of non-disabled persons, thereby denying students with disabilities an equal opportunity to take the exam. The state department of education agreed to revise procedures for requesting and processing accommodations for the GED examination. The state also provided training to test site administrators and staff of the testing service. The provision of accommodations now routinely takes no more than a few days, rather than the weeks or months it took when the complaint was filed with OCR.
- A large school district offered free administration of the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) to all tenth-grade students in the district. A complaint alleged that the free test administration did not include certain students with disabilities and certain LEP students. The district acknowledged that it did not extend the same opportunities to all students, and voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement to offer a comparable opportunity to those students who had been excluded.
- OCR found a school district failed to take appropriate action after a picture of a student with a disability appeared in the school yearbook with a disparaging disability-related nickname. The district agreed to send the student an acknowledgment of regret and to offer counseling for the student to alleviate any adverse effects that resulted from the incident. The district also agreed to institute a policy designed to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
I have just received the report concerning the High School. It is a brilliantly done piece of work; you are to be congratulated on this great report! You have left NO STONE UNTURNED! Your very pragmatic and exacting approach to detail is magnificent. It goes all the way from elevator gates to stalls in a boy’s bathroom.
Letter from the complainant
- A complainant alleged that many areas of a university were physically inaccessible to her motorized wheel chair, including the restrooms. She alleged that the restrooms did not have handrails and were too narrow, requiring her to hang from the top of the restroom stall and inch her way to the toilet. She filed the complaint after falling in the restroom and being unable to get up. OCR determined there were accessibility problems at the university. The university agreed to make structural changes to the facility to address the violations identified by OCR.
- A complaint alleged accessibility problems at a notable high school in a large urban public school district. Based on OCR’s finding, the district agreed to make an entrance accessible, provide adequate parking for persons with disabilities, create an accessible pathway from the parking lots to the school building, provide access to elevators, provide access to toilets and other critical facilities, and relocate specialized classrooms to physically accessible classrooms.