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Kathy: My daughter attends a technical institute for Medical Assistant, she is required to attend a certain amount of hours but due to medical issues was just dismissed from the course. How can I get her back in to school?

  1. My daughter has just started her freshman year. She has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. One of her fears is who she is going to sit with at lunch. On the first day of school, she couldn’t find anyone to sit with. The second thing happened on the second day of school, even with some assistance from some of the paraprofessionals. She said that most of the students were older and lots of boys and that she didn’t know anyone. I inquired of the asst. principal as to how the lunches are scheduled. I was told by him that the 2nd lunch (which is her lunch shift) is mainly for the vo-tech students, the co-op students (students that are mainly self-contained with fairly severe disabilities), and the special education students. Could that be considered discrimination?

  2. Kathy –

    College students with disabilities are potentially protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The ADA covers most public and private post-secondary schools, except those run by religious organizations. Section 504 covers all entities that receive federal financial assistance (such as student aid). Both laws require institutions to provide reasonable accommodations for student with disabilities. There may potentially be state laws that apply here as well.

    What is considered “reasonable” depends on the individual student’s disability and the resources available to the school, but reduced class load is a fairly standard accommodation.

  3. Here’s what I would suggest. First your daughter should contact the school’s disability office and find out if the school is covered by either (or both) of these laws. Then she should find ask information that she has to provide to the school to receive an accommodation. Then, of course, she should arrange to provide it.

    The Office of Civil Rights (OCR – http://www.ed.gov/ocr) may be a good resource to help you and her navigate this. There website has some helpful publications regarding the rights of disabled college students. You can also contact them for technical assistance or to file a complaint if needed.

  4. I also encourage your daughter to connect with your state’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. VR is intended to help adults with disabilities gain meaning employment. For college students this can mean help with applications, documenting and requesting accommodations, and even with financial assistance.

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