Of the Office for Civil Rights
Fiscal Year 2006
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B. Proactive Enforcement
In FY 2006, OCR resolved 13 compliance reviews, initiated in prior fiscal years, focused on eliminating barriers for postsecondary students with physical disabilities, including making residence halls, classrooms, academic buildings, and parking facilities accessible.
I am pleased that the University and the Office for Civil Rights were able to work together to address the needs of students with disabilities.
Letter from a university president
- OCR conducted compliance reviews at two major universities that focused on the accessibility of their residence halls. OCR found compliance problems that prevented students with disabilities from accessing the residence halls and participating in the programs offered in them. The universities entered into resolution agreements with OCR to remedy the identified problems.
- Based in part on enrollment data indicating African-American students were disproportionately represented in special education, OCR conducted a compliance review of a school district to determine whether African-American students were being subjected to discrimination on the basis of either race or disability, with respect to referral, evaluation and placement in special education. OCR’s investigation found no indication of different treatment on the basis of race. OCR, however, did find that 15 students had been placed in special education without meeting established criteria for special education eligibility. The district agreed to convene education planning meetings for each of the 15 students, conduct necessary re-evaluations, make eligibility decisions consistent with established standards and procedures and in accordance with applicable law, and provide to any of the 15 students removed from special education as a result of the re-evaluation appropriate supplemental services to facilitate their successful transition into the general education program.
- OCR closely monitored actions taken by a school district to comply with an agreement to resolve compliance concerns arising from an OCR compliance review. Specifically, the district took actions to ensure that students were appropriately referred, evaluated and placed in special education programs. During the 2005–--06 school year, the district re-evaluated 61 Educable Mentally Disabled (EMD) students. Twenty-three of those students continued in the EMD classification, 16 were reclassified in a different disability category, and 22 were determined not to have a disability and, thus, not to need special education services. The district also is providing transition services to the 22 students now in the general education program. When OCR initiated its review in 2004, there were 242 EMD students compared to 150 in the current 2006–07 academic year. There were 100 African-American students identified as EMD in the 2006–07 academic year, compared to 176 when OCR initiated its compliance review in the 2004–05 academic year.
As part of OCR’s proactive enforcement of Section 504 and Title II of the ADA, OCR provided numerous technical assistance presentations on disability issues. Disability is by far the most requested subject matter for OCR technical assistance.
OCR presented technical assistance presentations on the issues of students with disabilities transitioning from high school to college nearly 40 times in FY 2006. There are differences between the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities in the high school setting and those of students in the postsecondary education setting. Therefore, OCR has taken proactive steps to provide students with information to make this transition effectively. In FY 2006, OCR presented technical assistance on this transition from high school to college at high schools, college fairs, postsecondary institutions and conferences. For example, OCR participated in five student leadership conferences sponsored by a state department of education, at which OCR informed students about the importance of recognizing the differences between their rights in high school and their rights in college. Approximately 300 students, teachers, administrators and parents attended each conference. OCR also presented transition information at a disability symposium at which there were approximately 230 administrators, faculty and students in attendance from over 60 colleges and universities.
In FY 2006, OCR provided technical assistance on over 30 occasions regarding the requirements under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in the public elementary and secondary school context. OCR provided this presentation to over 350 educators in one state. The participants stated that they would be able to use the information shared by OCR throughout the state and expressed interest in future OCR presentations. OCR also presented this technical assistance in smaller settings, for example, presentations to several classes of undergraduate students.
In addition to the presentations discussed above, OCR provided disability-related technical assistance in FY 2006 on issues such as assistive technology, academic adjustments and auxiliary aids, accessibility and disability harassment. OCR provided over 110 presentations that focused entirely or partially on disability issues in FY 2006.