Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that governs how public schools must serve children with disabilities from birth until age 22. IDEA requires that schools provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and that states provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities aged birth to 3.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 is a civil rights law. It’s purpose is to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination based on their disabilities. Section 504 guarantees the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
Find out more about Section 504. Link to page we develop that has this info
What Is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
Specifically, the law states:
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Section 504 requires the provision of appropriate educational services; services that are designed to meet the individual needs of qualified students to the same extent that the needs of students without a disability are met. Essentially Section 504 was designed to “level the playing field,” to ensure full participation by individuals with disabilities.
To qualify under Section 504 a student must:
- Be determined to have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including learning and behavior.
- Have a record of having such an impairment OR
- Be regarded as having such impairment.
How can Section 504 help my child??
Section 504 ensures that a qualified child with a disability has equal access to education. The child may receive appropriate accommodations and modifications tailored to the child’s individual needs.
What is an “appropriate” accommodation under Section 504?
An appropriate accommodation for a student with a disability under Section 504 could entail
- education in regular classrooms
- education in regular classrooms with supplementary services, modifications and/or accommodations
- special education and related services OR
- any combination of the above.
How do I get my child covered under Section 504?
In order to receive services under Section 504, a child must first be determined to have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life functions, including education, learning, and behavior. Only the school can determine if your child qualifies for accommodations. Parents seeking to have their child receive services under Section 504 should take the following steps:
- Submit a written request to the school asking for an evaluation to determine if there is a significant impact on your child’s learning or behavior.
- Request a copy of your School District’s Policies and Procedures on Section 504. This document may be referred to by various names, including Procedural Safeguards, Parental Rights or something similar. This document will inform you of your and the school’s rights and responsibilities in helping your child receive the accommodations she or he needs.
How do I file a complaint about my school or school district?
Local school districts are responsible for implementing the provisions of Section 504. However, ultimate responsibility for enforcing these provisions rests with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education.
If you believe that a school or school district has violated this law and efforts at the local level to resolve your complaint have not been successful, you may file a formal complaint with OCR by contacting the nearest state/regional office. You may also call the OCR Hotline at 1-800-421-3481. A complaint may also be filed using the OCR Online Complaint Form.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a 1990 civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It gives similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disability as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability. This is defined as a person who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Find out more about the ADA. (link to page we develop with this info)
Guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This guide provides an overview of Federal civil rights laws that ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. To find out more about how these laws may apply to you, contact the agencies and organizations listed below.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress.
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
ADA Title I: Employment
Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Religious entities with 15 or more employees are covered under title I.
Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed
with a designated State or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a “right-to-sue” letter from the EEOC.
Charges of employment discrimination on the basis of disability may be filed at any U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. Field offices are located in 50 cities throughout the U.S. and are listed in most telephone directories under “U.S. Government.” For the appropriate EEOC field office in your geographic area, contact:
(800) 669-4000 (voice)
(800) 669-6820 (TTY)
Publications and information on EEOC-enforced laws may be obtained by calling:
(800) 669-3362 (voice)
(800) 800-3302 (TTY)
For information on how to accommodate a specific individual with a disability, contact the Job Accommodation Network at:
(800) 526-7234 (voice/TTY)
ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities
Title II covers all activities of State and local governments regardless of the government entity’s size or receipt of Federal funding. Title II requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting, and town meetings).
State and local governments are required to follow specific architectural standards in the new construction and alteration of their buildings. They also must relocate programs or otherwise provide access in inaccessible older buildings, and communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities. Public entities are not required to take actions that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. They are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity being provided.
Complaints of title II violations may be filed with the Department of Justice within 180 days of the date of discrimination. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department may bring a lawsuit where it has investigated a matter and has been unable to resolve violations. For more information, contact:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
Title II may also be enforced through private lawsuits in Federal court. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other Federal agency, or to receive a “right-to-sue” letter, before going to court.
ADA Title II: Public Transportation
The transportation provisions of title II cover public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g. subways, commuter rails, Amtrak). Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. They must comply with requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles, make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses, remanufacture buses in an accessible manner, and, unless it would result in an undue burden, provide paratransit where they operate fixed-route bus or rail systems. Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular transit system independently (because of a physical or mental impairment) are picked up and dropped off at their destinations. Questions and complaints about public transportation should be directed to:
Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
(888) 446-4511 (voice/relay)
ADA Title III: Public Accommodations
Title III covers businesses and nonprofit service providers that are public accommodations, privately operated entities offering certain types of courses and examinations, privately operated transportation, and commercial facilities. Public accommodations are private entities who own, lease, lease to, or operate facilities such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, homeless shelters, transportation depots, zoos, funeral homes, day care centers, and recreation facilities including sports stadiums and fitness clubs. Transportation services provided by private entities are also covered by title III.
Public accommodations must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. They also must comply with specific requirements related to architectural standards for new and altered buildings; reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures; effective communication with people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities; and other access requirements. Additionally, public accommodations must remove barriers in existing buildings where it is easy to do so without much difficulty or expense, given the public accommodation’s resources.
Courses and examinations related to professional, educational, or trade-related applications, licensing, certifications, or credentialing must be provided in a place and manner accessible to people with disabilities, or alternative accessible arrangements must be offered.
Commercial facilities, such as factories and warehouses, must comply with the ADA’s architectural standards for new construction and alterations.
Complaints of title III violations may be filed with the Department of Justice. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department is authorized to bring a lawsuit where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of title III, or where an act of discrimination raises an issue of general public importance. Title III may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (or any Federal agency), or to receive a “right-to-sue” letter, before going to court. For more information, contact:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)
ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services
Title IV addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs), which are also known as teletypewriters (TTYs), and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of Federally funded public service announcements. For more information about TRS, contact the FCC at:
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
(888) 225-5322 (Voice)
(888) 835-5322 (TTY)
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA is the Federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s educational records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from the US Department of Education. Parents have rights to review records and request corrections. These rights pass on to the student on the 18th birthday.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is the Federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s educational records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from the US Department of Education.
Parents and eligible students (18 and older) have the right to review records. Copies can be made of anything included in the records, but the school does not have to provide them for free. If parents are a great distance, away then copies can requested and sent to the parents.
Parents and eligible students have the right to request that corrections be made to the records if they find an error in the record. If schools does not amend the record, a formal hearing can be requested. If after the hearing, the school still does not change the record, a written statement may be placed in the record about the contested information.
Parents or eligible students must give written permission in order for schools to release any information from a student’s education record.
FERPA allows schools to share student records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
Schools may give basic contact information about the student without consent.
Schools must notify parents of these rights annually.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – the principal federal law affecting public education from elementary through high school. NCLB includes requirements about parental involvement, highly-qualified teachers, scientifically based reading instruction, tutoring and supplemental educational services, research-based teaching methods, and school and school district report cards.