Delivering the Promise of ADA in Our Schools

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  • A Denver charter school disenrolled a kindergarten student after finding out on orientation day that he had a mobility issue that would require him to use the school’s elevator. The school officials told the department it only handles ‘mild disabilities,’ and that they couldn’t ensure there would be an adult to ride the elevator with the student. ‘Well, they can now.’
  • Another student, with brittle-bone disease, was barred by her school from going on a field trip, because the school said it couldn’t guarantee her safety. The civil rights office intervened, and the school has purchased a special vehicle to accommodate her.
  • In a Colorado school, students with emotional disabilities were sent to an ‘alternate learning lab’ with no teacher. OCR worked with the school to make sure they were fully included.

‘Our kids are fully part of our schools,’ Catherine E. Lhamon, DOE assistant secretary for civil rights told the audience of disability-rights advocates. ‘We need to make sure the rights of our kids are realized.’

Below is the complete article by Christina Samuels on her Blog, On Special Education, about DOE’s celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA .

“Twenty-five years after the Americans With Disabilities Act passed, schools and other public spaces have made strides to accommodate children and youth with disabilities, said a U.S. Department of Education event to honor the civil rights law Friday.

But there is still work to be done on making the promise of the ADA the ‘delivered reality of our kids in schools,’ said Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the department. She rattled off a list of settlement agreements that the department had entered into just this month:

*A Denver charter school disenrolled a kindergarten student after finding out on orientation day that he had a mobility issue that would require him to use the school’s elevator. The school officials told the department it only handles ‘mild disabilities,’ and that they couldn’t ensure there would be an adult to ride the elevator with the student. ‘Well, they can now,’ Lhamon said.
* Another student, with brittle-bone disease, was barred by her school from going on a field trip, because the school said it couldn’t guarantee her safety. The civil rights office intervened, and the school has purchased a special vehicle to accommodate her.
*In a Colorado school, students with emotional disabilities were sent to an ‘alternate learning lab’ with no teacher. OCR worked with the school to make sure they were fully included.

‘Our kids are fully part of our schools,’ Lhamon told the audience of disability-rights advocates. ‘We need to make sure the rights of our kids are realized.’

The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act happens to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was signed by President Gerald Ford in November 1975. The ADA prohibits disability-based discrimination in employment, accommodations, and public services. The education rights of students with disabilities are not directly protected by the ADA, but ADA does require ‘reasonable accommodations’ for students. School programs, including extracurricular activities, must be made available for students with disabilities.

In contrast, the IDEA contains much-more specific provisions that relate to a child’s school experience. It also provides federal funds to states to help them pay for the educational services that students with disabilities need.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan closed out the event by reminding the audience of a phrase used by Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’

‘The challenge for all of us is to see if we can’t bend that arc a little faster,’ Duncan said.”

From Education Department Celebrates ADA’s 25th Anniversary, by Christina Samuels, 07/24/15.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2015/07/education_department_ADA.html

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Melissa

My 3 year old son just aged out of EI and was placed in the school system’s developmental preschool class. He vomits due to his disability and on the second day of his attendance, the Director of Children with Special Needs called me and said that he cannot attend the school if he vomits. We have provided 2 letters from 2 of my son’s doctors explaining that the vomiting is part of his disability and that he is not contagious or infectious. He averages vomiting once per day. The Director still maintains that he cannot attend if he vomits and she wants to shorten his school day based on times that the school has witnessed him vomiting most often. We are refusing the change to his IEP of shortening his school day due to vomiting because it is part of his disability. Help!

Chuck

Your situation falls under ADA, & Section 504. Every district is to have a district 504 coordinator. This person should know that this is a violation of the rules. You can also make a complaint to the state education agency. Document the things you are being told. Your state parent training & information center can also help you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center