Disability Accommodations Attorney

Disability Issues Affect Academic Progress

Disability issues can certainly affect a student's academic progress, whether at the high school or college or university level. Physical limitations can affect a student's ability to enter buildings, classrooms, libraries, and restrooms. Health conditions can require sitting, standing, or frequent breaks. Hearing issues can affect a student's ability to benefit from lectures, discussions, and online resources, and participate in collaborative work and study groups. Impaired eyesight issues can affect a student's ability to read and type. Learning disabilities can affect a student's processing speed, attention, concentration, and distractibility. Almost any impairment is likely to have some effect, and many impairments serious effect, on academic progress. Schools design academic programs to challenge student mental and physical capabilities. Schools impose satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements and other standards that a student with a disability may not be able to meet without reasonable accommodation. An unaccommodated disability may result in lower or failing grades, course incompletes, and course withdrawals. Don't be surprised if you or your student face academic issues relating to a disability. Nearly twenty percent of college undergraduates report having a disability. Disability issues are common and predictable.

Addressing Disability Issues Promptly and Directly

The student with a disability needs to address academic progress issues promptly and directly with the school or risk academic probation and dismissal. Although the school has certain obligations to reasonably accommodate a student's disability, disability laws generally require the student to trigger those obligations with a request for accommodation. In most cases, you or your student cannot simply sit back, waiting for the school to accommodate the disability. The student must generally make an accommodation request, including completing the school's accommodation request form and otherwise following the school's accommodation procedures. Many students with disabilities could obtain necessary accommodations if they only followed through with the school's procedures. Don't let confusion or inattention, or misunderstanding of the school's complex procedures, defeat your accommodation rights or the rights of your student. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to ensure that you have made and documented a proper accommodation request.

The School's Fundamental Obligation

High schools, colleges, and universities, especially those receiving federal funding, have obligations not to unlawfully discriminate against students with disabilities. Students with disabilities have federal disability rights. The school's obligations include to reasonably accommodate a student's disabilities so that the student can access the education's instruction and services. Two federal laws, both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, guarantee those rights in most educational institutions. The laws protect qualified individuals with disabilities, meaning individuals who can otherwise meet the school's normal and essential eligibility requirements but for the disability. The laws define an individual with a disability as a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or a history of such an impairment. If you or your student face an academic progress issue related to a disability, and the school is not meeting these obligations, then retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to ensure the school complies.

Qualifying Disabilities Requiring Accommodation

The public typically thinks of a disability as an impairment with walking or otherwise moving about, perhaps restricting the person to a wheelchair. But disabilities can be much broader. Disabilities can include anything that substantially limits a major life activity like caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, writing or performing other manual tasks, and learning. Physical disabilities that impair learning and other life activities can include health conditions like diabetes, diseases like cancer, blindness or deafness, and many others. But mental disabilities and illness can also impair learning and life activities, thus qualifying as a protected disability. Mental disabilities can include things like closed head injury, post-traumatic stress syndrome, acute or chronic depression, and learning disabilities like attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). About one quarter of college disability accommodations involve ADHD diagnoses. Do not overlook physical or mental conditions affecting your schooling or the schooling of your student. Those physical or mental conditions very likely qualify as a protected disability. If you have a dispute with your school over whether a disability qualifies for accommodation, then retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to represent you.

Example Accommodations

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act require your school or your student's school to provide reasonable accommodations for qualifying disabilities. Those accommodations can include much more than ramps, elevators, and lifts to ensure wheelchair access to buildings and classrooms. Accommodations may include auxiliary aids like sign language interpreters, note takers, and readers. Federal disability laws may also require that the school adjust the academic program itself to eliminate requirements that are not essential to the program. The school may have to permit the student to take an exam alone in a quiet room or to grant the student additional time to complete an exam. Schools must address accommodations on a case-by-case basis. Accommodations can include many other things that eliminate obstacles and level the playing field for the student with a disability, including service animals. A school need not supply every possible accommodation, only reasonable accommodations that depend on factors like the accommodation's disruption or expense. If you have a dispute with your school over necessary accommodations, then retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to represent you.

The Role of Attorney Help for Disability Issues

Don't be surprised if you or your student need skilled attorney representation to address a school disability issue. Schools can be relatively sophisticated in their management of student disability issues. But not every instructor or administrator in every department of every school will be an expert in disability rights and accommodations. Schools often lack the basic understanding and expertise to properly address disability issues and avoid violating student disability rights. You or your student may be dealing with uninformed school officials who do not know the law or do not know the available and common accommodations. You, too, may lack a full understanding of disability rights and the accommodations that may be available to you or your student. That knowledge gap is what the skilled representation of an experienced academic administrative attorney addresses. National academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento can advocate on your behalf or your student's behalf to educate and inform school officials of their obligations under the complex federal disability-rights laws.

School Failure to Recognize a Disability

Schools fail in their disability-rights obligations in various ways. Sometimes, a school simply fails or refuses to recognize that the student has a disability. Some disabilities, like paralysis of the lower extremities requiring a wheelchair, are so obvious that the school must provide obvious accommodations. But many disabilities, like a diabetic's need for a service animal to alert to low blood sugar, hide from plain view. Learning disabilities like ADD and ADHD can be especially difficult to discern, even for the student who has managed the conditions for a lifetime. Some students do not discover their learning disability until college. Learning disabilities generally require sophisticated testing and subtle diagnosis, as do many other disabilities. School officials may require the disability's extensive documentation from qualified professionals before offering accommodations. Even then, some school officials may refuse to recognize a non-obvious disability. If your school simply won't recognize your condition or the condition of your student as a disability, then retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to advocate on your behalf or your student's behalf with the appropriate documentation.

School Failure to Grant Disability Accommodation

Other times, your problem may lie with the school failing or refusing to provide reasonable accommodations. The school may recognize your disability. The bigger fight may be to convince the school to provide the reasonable accommodations that your disability requires. Disability law, rules, and regulations do not generally state the specific accommodations the school must supply in any individual case. Instead, disability law requires the school to engage in a flexible interactive process with you to determine what accommodations are reasonable under your specific circumstances. The University of Minnesota's process is an example. You and the school must generally meet and talk in back-and-forth communications. You must generally present documentation of the disability and your accommodation needs, while the school must review your documentation. That interactive process enables the school to identify the obstacles and barriers that keep you or your student from meeting academic requirements. Schools do not have to provide accommodations that create an undue hardship for the school, perhaps because of substantial disruption or expense, but must provide reasonable accommodations. See for example this University of New Mexico policy. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you resolve disputes with your school over reasonable accommodations.

School Failure to Fulfill Disability Accommodations

Other times, your problem may lie with the school not meeting accommodations to which it has committed. In some cases, the school will acknowledge that the student has a qualifying disability but will simply fail to consistently provide the necessary accommodations. Typically, a school's reluctance to provide accommodations is due to the accommodations' trouble, inconvenience, or expense. Arranging and scheduling accommodations takes administrative thought, time, and energy that some administrators just aren't ready or able to commit. Schools may also face staffing issues, not having hired enough help or qualified help to supply the promised accommodations. Schools may also claim that they lack available rooms and spaces the school has dedicated to other uses the school gives a higher priority than accommodations. Schools may also claim they lack available equipment, or the equipment may be outdated or in need of maintenance or repair.

None of these excuses relieve a school from its legal obligations. Once the school accepts that the promised accommodations are reasonable, the school should provide those accommodations. If the accommodations are reasonable and promised, then you should be getting the accommodations. If your school has promised reasonable accommodations that it is failing to provide, then you have an enforceable legal right to those accommodations. Your school will have administrative procedures for enforcing that right. And if your school does not have appropriate administrative procedures, then you will have other legal recourse either within the school's higher administrative structure or, if necessary, in the courts. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to ensure that your school provides its promised accommodations.

Following School Disability Procedures

Other times, your problem may lie with discerning and following the school's disability accommodations procedures. The school may claim that you have not provided timely and adequate documentation supporting the accommodation request, to the proper school officials. Accommodation procedures can be tricky, vague, or complex. They also generally assign broad authority to school officials without specifying other school officials who would review and correct unfair or unlawful decisions. For example, City University of New York requires students who request accommodations to follow these procedures:

Students seeking accommodations or academic adjustments should contact the Office of Student Disability Services at the CUNY College or unit they attend. … Students may be asked to complete an intake form and provide supporting documentation. The Director of Student Disability Services, or a designee, and the student will engage in an interactive process, which may include a consideration of a number of factors, such as the student's limitations and the academic or other program requirements, with the goal of finding an acceptable accommodation or academic adjustment. … The Director of Student Disability Services, or a designee, may, when necessary and in a confidential manner, consult with appropriate college officials, such as the instructor or Provost, to determine program requirements and appropriate accommodations. A grant or denial of the request must be made as soon as practicable, taking into account the urgency of the request, and sent to the student in writing, either stating the accommodation or academic adjustment to be provided, or for denials, the reasons the request was denied.

Depending on the school's size and sophistication, accommodation requests may also go to school officials who have many other duties to which they assign a higher priority. Accommodation channels can involve school officials who have too little time and attention to devote to their accommodations duties. The interactive process that accommodation requests require can also involve negotiating with school officials who resist expending the necessary resources. High school, college, and university students often do not have the academic administrative skill, or the time and confidence, to negotiate effectively with school officials over accommodation requests those officials are resisting. If you or your student face academic progress challenges due to the school's failure or refusal to provide reasonable accommodations for a disability, retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team for premier representation. Don't risk academic probation or dismissal.

Disability Issues in School Misconduct Cases

Failure to meet satisfactory academic progress is the usual problem when disability issues interfere with a student's ability to access instruction and resources, and perform as the student could if reasonably accommodated. Lower or failing grades, course withdrawals, and course incompletes can all affect satisfactory academic progress. But disability issues can also lead to unfair academic misconduct charges. Instructors may misconstrue a disabled student's reasonable accommodations, including things like note taker or reading support, use of online aids, and extended time for assignments, quizzes, or exams, as unauthorized collaboration, unauthorized use of study aids, or other forms of cheating. Some misconduct charges would not have occurred if the school had simply recognized and accommodated the accused student's disability.

Disabilities can also affect a student's ability to participate effectively in school disciplinary proceedings. Defending a misconduct charge can require the student to obtain, read, and respond to school disciplinary communications, and attend disciplinary interviews, conferences, and hearings, using unfamiliar resources in unfamiliar locations. The student with a disability may have learned to navigate the school's academic procedures with reasonable accommodations but may not have requested or received accommodations for the disciplinary proceeding. Schools have the same obligations to accommodate disabled students in disciplinary proceedings as they do to accommodate disabled students in academic proceedings. Those accommodations may include:

  • providing sign language interpreters, large print documents, or reader-enabled format for students with sight or hearing impairments;
  • moving the location of interviews, conferences, and hearings to an accessible building;
  • adjourning or delaying an interview, conference, or hearing while the school provides or the student obtains accommodations; and
  • consulting and involving disabilities accommodations officials in the disciplinary proceeding.

If you or your student face an academic or behavioral misconduct charge relating to a disability issue, or a disability is affecting your ability or your student's ability to participate effectively in a disciplinary proceeding, you need the representation of a skilled and experienced academic attorney advocate. Don't allow a disability to adversely affect the outcome of a disciplinary proceeding. Ensure that the school respects and complies with disability rights even in a misconduct proceeding. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team for your best results.

What's at Stake with School Disability Issues

Make no mistake. Disability issues at school can have an enormous adverse impact on a student's education and future. You or your student may have had necessary accommodations at a prior school, enabling strong academic success. Accommodations at one school may lead to accommodations at another. But success in the face of disabilities at one school does not guarantee success at the next school. Instead, each school has its own accommodations procedures. And each school has its own customs for accommodating students claiming disabilities. What one school makes readily available, another school may refuse. Disability issues can lead to lower grades. They can also lead to failing grades, or if not an outright failure, then course withdrawals or course incompletes. Any of those outcomes can lead to loss of honors and awards, and loss of scholarships. Any of those outcomes can also place a student on academic probation. Disability issues create the risk of dismissal.

Disability issues can also bring longer-term effects. Lower grades can mean an inability to gain admission to a preferred college, university, graduate school, professional school, or other desirable educational program. Probation or dismissal can mean inability to gain admission to any college, university, graduate school, or professional school. Academic probation or dismissal can also mean inability to transfer to other schools. Academic dismissal can also lead to loss of college or university housing and scholarships, and trigger of loan repayment obligations. Academic probation or dismissal can also lead to loss of references and recommendation letters, internships, and job interviews. In short, disability issues affecting academic performance can affect everything for which a student worked. Don't underestimate the potential impact of disability issues. Treat disability issues with the priority they deserve.

Premier National Academic Administrative Attorney

National academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team are available for disability-rights representation at high schools, colleges, and universities nationwide. Attorney Lento has successfully represented hundreds of high school, college, and university students in disability rights issues, academic progress issues, and misconduct defense. Attorney Lento has built a premier national reputation based on his extensive knowledge, skills, and experience, and track record of success. Attorney Lento is an aggressive advocate but also adept at negotiating favorable outcomes with school officials in early or late compromise of disputed claims or allegations. Retain attorney Lento at the first notice that you or your student face academic progress or misconduct issues related to a disability. But also retain attorney Lento if you have already exhausted all available avenues for relief. Attorney Lento has successfully negotiated alternative relief through general counsel or ombud offices. The stage of your proceeding does not matter. Get the review of a preeminent academic administrative attorney before you give up and succumb to the violation of your disability rights. Call 888-555-3686 or go online for premier disability attorney representation.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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