Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Office of Civil Rights Receives Record Number of Special Education Complaints

The United States Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education enforces civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, disability and age.  A new OCR report for the period 2009-2010 states that from 2009 to 2011, the agency received more complaints about disability issues than in any previous three-year period.  Of the nearly 11,700 complaints concerning disability issues, almost 4,700 involved the rights of children to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  The remaining 7,000 disability-related complaints concerned issues including school district violations of Child Find, denial of access to academic programs and extracurricular activities, access to assistive technology, denial of academic adjustments, and harassment and bullying.

The data used in the report covered 85% of U.S. public schools.  The data for 2011-2013 will include every public school in the nation.  Matters described in the OCR report include:

·         A school district that required parents to get medical documentation, at their own expense, supporting the existence of disabilities for their children. The district also required parents to show that their children were being discriminated against before it would conduct an evaluation for disabilities.

·         A charter school that failed to properly evaluate whether a 6th grade transfer student with a severe, potentially life-threatening peanut allergy to determine if she had a disability.

·         A school district that had not fully implemented an IEP for a child with a mood disorder.

·        Investigation of whether children who ride school buses specifically for children with disabilities receive less instructional time than children who do not have disabilities.

·         Data collected showing that students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended out of school in comparison to their peers without disabilities.

·         Cases involving the bullying and harassment of students with disabilities.

·         School denial of access to academic programs and extracurricular activities to students with disabilities.
The entire report is available at:

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