I am an ESE teacher of students with autism in a self-contained class. The majority of my students are not allowed to go to art and music unless they can be mainstreamed without a paraprofessional’s assistance. My principal told me, “they just don’t get to go.” When I called the ESE department in my district, they told me the principal could make that decision. They said disabled students are only entitled to academics, not electives.
As you have probably figured out, children with disabilities are being discriminated against for reasons related to their disabilities. They are often not allowed to participate in the same activities as children without disabilities.
This is quite illegal and has been so for many years. It is a Section 504 lawsuit waiting to happen.
The school principal has done an excellent job of opening himself, personally and individually, up to a lawsuit where $$$ damages may have to be paid to a plaintiff.
High Risk for Lawsuit
Since the ESE department not only is on notice, but failed to act, they have condoned the principal’s behavior. That ESE department head / individual is also at personal risk. Of course, the school system is at very high risk, not only for a major lawsuit, but a major investigation by Office for Civil Rights.
A case like this usually generates much adverse publicity and head rolling usually follows.
Please feel free to pass this posting on to those individuals.
Or, you may simply suggest that they consult with their own school board attorney about this illegal practice.
Avoid Putting Yourself at Risk
To avoid your putting yourself at risk by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, be sure you express your misgivings to your immediate supervisor. To document the issue and avoid inadvertently becoming a defendant in such a suit, follow up with a nice thank you note to your supervisor. Write to thank him for being willing to listen to your concerns. Be sure that your “thank you note” states your misgivings. If it is not in writing, it was never said, thus the necessity for a written “thank you note”.
On our Wrightslaw website, you will want to read about the case of Doe v Withers where a history teacher had a $15,000 jury trial judgment against him because he refused to follow a child’s IEP. Doe v. Withers was the first special education jury trial and the first special education dollar damages case. Enter the word “Withers” in the search box and you will find more about the case.
The special education teacher and others got off the hook because, in writing, they disavowed this teacher’s practice and told him to comply with the IEP. The history teacher would not comply because he was arrogant. He was in the state’s general assembly, and, if I recall facts, might have been chair of the education funding subcommittee. However, the jury was not impressed.