Education Department Offers Resources on Student Civil Rights

The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released four new resources with information for students, families, and schools addressing the civil rights of students with disabilities and a data snapshot about education access for students with disabilities from OCR’s 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) (press release).

The resources delve into common medical conditions that can be disabilities for purposes of Section 504, which prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities by institutions that accept federal funding, including asthmadiabetesfood allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. These resources, applicable at all levels of education, explain when such medical conditions trigger protections, what kind of modifications an institution may need to take to avoid unlawful discrimination, and what an institution may need to do to remedy past discrimination.

The CRDC data snapshot profiles educational opportunities provided to public school students with disabilities during the 2020-21 school year. It reflects troubling differences in the experiences of students with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers. For example, higher percentages of students with disabilities were physically restrained or secluded than students without disabilities. Students with disabilities were also over-represented in disciplinary actions, when compared to their total student enrollment, while students with disabilities were under-represented in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, gifted and talented programs, and dual enrollment or dual credit programs.

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