Parents generally know or soon learn that their student's high school has the legal obligation to reasonably accommodate their student's disability. But legal obligations are one thing while meeting those obligations is another thing. Just because your student's high school owes your student the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for your student's disability doesn't mean that the high school will actually do so. Your student may even have an individual education plan (IEP) providing for certain special education services and accommodations. But again, just because an IEP promises services and accommodations doesn't mean that your student is going to get those services and accommodations. Parents and their students can face such significant issues with disability accommodations that the student cannot proceed through traditional high school. If your student isn't getting the needed and promised special education services and reasonable disability accommodations, retain national education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team. Get the skilled and experienced help you need to enforce your student's federal disability rights.
Federal Obligations to Reasonably Accommodate
When enacting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Congress recognized that statistics continue to show that millions of high school students require special education services and accommodations to overcome disabilities that would otherwise impair their learning. Under IDEA's implementing regulation 34 CFR Section 300.101, a high school must provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to a student with a disability. The regulation further expressly provides, “Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.”
The IDEA law and its implementing regulations are one source of the obligation your student's high school owes to your student to reasonably accommodate your student's disability. When Congress enacted Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 USC § 794, and the US Department of Education adopted implementing regulations at 34 CFR Part 104; the enactments further required all high schools receiving federal funds to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits local governments, including public high schools, from discriminating against students based on disability. Together, these laws provide a substantial basis for enforcing your high school student's right to reasonable accommodations to overcome your student's disability.
Disabilities to Which Reasonable Accommodation Applies
Your student's high school owes reasonable accommodation for more than just physical disabilities like standing or walking impairment. For example, the IDEA law's federal regulation 34 CFR Section 300.8 defines disability to include any of the following conditions when they cause the student to need special education or related services and accommodations:
- an intellectual disability,
- a hearing impairment, including deafness,
- a speech or language impairment,
- a visual impairment, including blindness,
- a serious emotional disturbance,
- an orthopedic impairment,
- traumatic brain injury,
- a specific learning disability, and
- other health impairments.
The last general category of “other health impairments” requiring special education services is a catch-all provision, meaning that your student need not have one of the other listed disabilities. Other health impairments needing special education services or accommodations qualify your student as having a disability. One state education association's accommodations guide, for instance, lists allergies, anxiety, asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, hemophilia, obesity, skin disorders, and tuberculosis as additional qualifying disabilities. Indeed, learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD are among the most common of accommodated disabilities. And your student's high school owes the obligation to identify your student's disability whether you request it or not. Retain national education attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento if your student's high school has failed or refused to identify your student as having a qualified disability.
What Are Reasonable Accommodation Rights?
The reasonable accommodations your student's high school owes your student can be as varied as the qualifying disabilities. Federal law doesn't require full accommodation of all disabilities, just reasonable accommodation. High school officials may determine reasonableness based on factors like the cost of accommodations, their availability, what alternatives to accommodation may exist, and whether an accommodation will disrupt, distract, or fundamentally the education. Accommodations obviously depend on the disability. Accommodations can also vary from school to school, district to district, and region to region, depending on customs and the cost and availability of various services. According to a state education association's accommodations guide, these few examples, among dozens of others, maybe some of the common accommodations that your student's high school may need to make available to your student for the following cond