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The legal definition of retaliation is located in the implementing regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at 28 CFR 36.206.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education, issues public guidance on retaliation as a violation of Federal law. The OCR Letter, issued on April 24, 2013, clarifies the basic principles of retaliation law and describes OCR's methods of enforcement.

New Publication! Is the School Retaliating? A Guide to Your Rights by Disability Rights California (April 2015, Pub. #5408.01). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s disability and retaliation for the exercise of the rights it protects. Is the School Retaliating describes these rights and the factors that must be proved to support a retaliation claim.

New! Listen and Watch Pete's video about the case AC v. Shelby Countyvideo On April 1, 2013, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision about a child with Type 1 diabetes and retaliation under Section 504. The case focused on false allegations of child abuse by the school principal.

Jury Awards 1 Million to Fired Special Ed Teacher
. Oregon jury sends a strong message to a school district
that retaliated against a special ed teacher who advocated for her students. This "inside story" includes links to the pleadings in this landmark retaliation case. (Note: Subsequently, the school district appealed. On April 5, 2004, the U. S. Court of Appeals reversed a magistrate judge and upheld the jury verdict for Pamella Settlegoode.)
Download the decision in Pamella Settlegoode v. Portland Oregon in pdf or in html

Linda Sturm v. Rocky Hill Bd of Ed, U. S. District Court of Connecticut. Special ed teacher can bring suit against the school district who did not renew her contract because Section 504 includes anti-retaliation provisions and courts have extended protection against retaliation for those who advocate for the disabled. (2005)

Fales v. Garst: Analysis by Pete Wright. In a January 2, 2001 decision, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit filed by three special education teachers against the principal of their school. The teachers complained "about Garst's administrative decisions and actions to his superiors and others, including the media" over the needs of special education students.”

Judge Allows Lawsuit for Damages Against Hawaii. Judge rules that a family can sue to force the state to pay for therapy for their 6-year old autistic daughter and can seek punitive damages for the emotional distress suffered while trying to get services for their child.

"Enemies List" Targets Parents. Describes efforts by the Association of California School Administrators to compile a list of parents and parent groups who were critical of schools or who questioned special education decisions. 

Jury Awards $600,000 to Parents of Handicapped Child. Jury found that school district failed to provide free appropriate public education and retaliated against parents who attempted to advocate for their child.


AC v. Shelby County (6th Cir. 2013) - In 2013, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a pro-child 504 ruling in a retaliation case where the principal filed "false" child abuse allegations against the parent. The principal told DCS that the parents "are just looking for a lawsuit" and that they did not care that "the child could die at school."

For a retaliation case to proceed, the Court must find that the school retaliated against the parents for asserting their rights under Section 504. After the US District Court dismissed the case, the Sixth Circuit reversed, found that the District Court misunderstood the law, and remanded the case back for a trial by jury. The original decision as issued by the Court is located here. The Wrightslaw reformatted version with bold highlights inserted is located here.

Pamella Settlegoode v. Portland Public Schools, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Court upheld jury verdict, reinstated 1 million dollar award to special ed teacher who was retaliated against and fired for advocating for her students; clarifies importance of freedom of speech for teachers. Decision in pdf (2004)

Linda Sturm v. Rocky Hill Bd of Ed, U. S. District Court of Connecticut. Special ed teacher can bring suit against the school district who did not renew her contract because Section 504 includes anti-retaliation provisions and courts have extended protection against retaliation for those who advocate for the disabled. (2005)

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Last updated: 04/08/15

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