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Disability Success Stories

OCR Provides Support for Mother's Concerns

A mother of two children enrolled in special education programs filed a complaint with OCR alleging that the State's Department of Education was providing inadequate services to both of her children. The mother also alleged that school officials wrongfully disciplined one of her children and failed to provide him with appropriate education services. Upon investigation, OCR found that neither child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) had been properly implemented by the state's Department of Education, which agreed to redress its inaction and compensate for the services missed. OCR investigators also compared tone child's disciplinary punishment to that given to others who had misbehaved, and determined that the Board indeed had retaliated against the child. Education officials agreed to expunge the student's record of disciplinary incidents for the year, and agreed to treat students equitably in the future.

In addition, OCR found that officials had retaliated against the students' mother, including making comments critical of her to other parents. The state Department of Education sent her a letter of apology, advised its staff of the of their actions and-most importantly, because OCR found that many families feared retaliation-notified the community, including parents and students, that staff would not retaliate against them

Working to Keep Special Education for Those With Special Needs

OCR completed monitoring a western school district that had been placing a disproportionate number of African American students in special education classes. OCR's resolution agreement with the district provided for development of a pre-referral intervention process to assist students experiencing difficulties in a regular classroom setting. The agreement with OCR also revised referral procedures for special education evaluation to ensure consideration of the impact of education and medical history as well as environmental, cultural and economic factors. Since entering the agreement with OCR, the number of African American students classified as learning disabled (LD) decreased from 221 to 161. As a result of OCR's intervention, the district reports that 89% of the African American students classified as LD and 46% of those classified as mentally disabled are now being educated in a regular setting. Overall, 80% of students with disabilities now receive their educational services through full-day inclusion in the regular classroom with supplementary aids and services. The District continues to engage in a strong staff training efforts and ongoing self-evaluation to identify any remaining areas of concern.

No Playgrounds Available To Children With Disabilities

Young children who are mobility impaired were unable to play outdoors with their classmates because they could not use the school's playground equipment or even enter the play area. After working with the OCR to resolve a parent's complaint, the school district agreed to provide a range of accessible play facilities equivalent to those provided to students who are not mobility impaired, and to make sure that routes to play equipment and sand areas are available to all students.

School Discounted Student's Disability Because I.Q. Was So High

A fifth-grade student with Aperger's Syndrome - a form of autism often accompanied by a high I.Q. - was denied a free and appropriate education because his school district did not believe it had a legal obligation to serve him due to his high intelligence. As a result of the OCR's actions, the district provided the student with the education, services and aids he requires based on his needs. This case also served to alert the OCR to potential future problems in this school district. As a result of the agency's work, the district agreed to identify and locate every qualified student with a disability who was not receiving a public education, and inform them and their parents of the district's obligations under Section 504.

Hearing-impaired Parents Needed Interpreter For School Events

Parents who were hearing impaired were having a difficult time participating in their kindergarten daughter's schooling because they received inadequate and inaccurate information from an interpreter hired by the school district. Civil rights laws in education covering disabilities ensure access to education information not just for students with disabilities but also for students' parents or guardians who may be disabled. With OCR's assistance, the parents and their district resolved their differences and agreed to a strategy for improving communication for the next 12 years of the child's education.

Program For Children With Mental Health Problems Refused Boy With Diabetes

A camp that asked a local school district for referrals to enroll children with mental health problems refused to admit a child with diabetes. The camp cited possible health risks despite assurances from the child's physician and his grandmother that his health was well-managed and posed no risk as long as camp employees were notified of his diabetes. The OCR mediated to allow the child to enter the camp program. It also made the school district aware of its legal obligations to students when it worked with other organizations. In addition, the OCR alerted its sister organization, the Office for Civil Rights in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, so that this agency with direct jurisdiction over the camp could provide technical assistance to camp administrators.

Charter Schools Must Comply With Disability Laws

A disabled kindergarten student who was enrolled in a charter school during its first year of operation was having behavioral problems related to his disability. Few special services were given him and, at the beginning of his second year, the charter school notified the parents of a decision to hold an expulsion hearing for their child. The parents withdrew their son from the school and filed a complaint with the OCR, which determined that the charter school had violated anti-discrimination laws by failing to provide supplementary aids and a continuum of special education services to the child. The charter school agreed to readmit the boy and reimburse his family for the remedial tutoring, therapy and child care that resulted from his exclusion. The student is now in third grade and is making good progress at the school. The OCR continues to monitor the charter school's provision of special education services to students.

Proprietary School Made Disabled Student Take Additional Tests

An older student who had lost one hand and a leg was required by his business college to demonstrate his typing skills and his ability to move around the classroom before the school would admit him to its keyboarding class, although it made no other students demonstrate skills or agility. The school's additional requirement for the student on the basis of his disability is prohibited by civil rights laws. As a result of the OCR's intervention, the business college amended its policies and practices, admitted the student to the program and purchased a tutorial program appropriate for use by a person without two hands.

110 Community Colleges Lacked Services For Students With Visual Impairments

In a state that serves nearly one million students through the largest community college system in the nation, students with visual impairments were being denied access to print materials and computer-based information. Their chance to attain degrees was significantly impaired by an inability to receive publications and other information in a format they could use. The OCR worked with administrators of all 110 colleges to: develop a strategy that purchased adaptive hardware cost-effectively; provide advance adaptive technology training for specialists; create disability access guidelines for distance learning and web pages; establish a system-wide translation center; create a central registry of tape and Braille materials; and move responsibility for accessible libraries to library personnel than student services personnel. Through these actions, thousands of already-enrolled visually impaired students significantly increased their ease of access and ability to complete college requirements. Future students with visual impairments, too, will enjoy equal access to necessary educational information.

University Failed to Lighten Course Load For Disabled Student

A freshman college student fell into a coma. When he recovered, he had lost some of his cognitive skills and short-term memory. Altogether, he was out of school for 18 months. When he returned, his physician recommended that he enroll no more than three courses a semester. The university refused to lower its four-course requirement for more than one semester because its policy was to allow only eight semesters total to complete undergraduate requirements. University officials defended their position by stating they had been flexible in allowing the student one part-time semester and that rigorous standards were a hallmark of the top-ranked school. After the OCR saw that the university had not considered the severity of the student's disability and that giving him additional time would not jeopardize its competitive ranking, officials agreed to change their policy for this student and all future students with disabilities whose conditions make them incapable of successful full-time enrollment.

Last Modified: 01/10/2020