As students with disabilities pursue an education at the primary or secondary level, in a college or university, or any other post-secondary program, they will encounter obstacles. They will face rigorous academics, challenges fitting in with peers, and fulfilling graduation requirements like any other student. After all, one in five students enrolled in higher education programs lives with a disability, according to one study. Therefore, they shouldn't feel alone in their endeavors. Yet, students with disabilities must contend with acquiring disability accommodations to assist them throughout their academic years. Although state and federal governments require institutions to give reasonable accommodations for qualifying disabilities, South Dakota schools sometimes fail to provide them, which has a detrimental effect on student academic progress. If your school or program refuses to recognize your disability or offer legally-required accommodations, contact national education lawyer Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team.
Disabled Student Rights in South Dakota
Disability Accommodations in South Dakota
The U.S. Department of Education's (USDOE) Office of Civil Rights guarantees a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) for every student in primary and secondary schools nationwide. Regardless of what type of disability a student has—emotional, mental, or physical—the USDOE asserts that students with disabilities must be educated in the "least restrictive environment." Such affords every disabled student the chance to be integrated into the school population without exclusion. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary federal law governing access to disability accommodations. Under the law, K-12 schools must identify potential disabilities in enrolled students, assess their academic and behavioral standing, and deliver alterations to augment a student's course load or educational environment with an individualized education plan (IEP). Colleges and universities in South Dakota and across the U.S. are directed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to grant accommodations to students with qualifying disabilities. Such accommodations may include physical equipment, facility conversions, hearing or language services, schedule alterations, alternative assessments, and other provisions satisfying FAPE requirements.
ADA Issues and Lawsuits in South Dakota
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also compels South Dakota's post-secondary schools to accommodate qualifying disabilities. The ADA covers a variety of physical disabilities like diabetes, heart disease, HIV, loss of senses, paralysis, and others. Yet, the act also protects students with intellectual and emotional disabilities. These include diagnosed anxiety disorders, learning inabilities, psychiatric conditions, and others requiring medication or therapy. The federal government's guidelines and disability rights will be enforced through lawsuits or civil actions. For example, a suit alleges a disabled student was discriminated against in violation of the ADA, enduring the use of excessive force at a South Dakota elementary school.
South Dakota State Disability Laws
South Dakota's state disability laws typically run parallel with federal laws, including using the same definition of disability the federal government used in the ADA. The state has implemented criteria for determining a specific learning disability in children as young as three through early-detection services, per South Dakota Administrative Rule (S.D. Admin. R.) §24:05:24.01:01. Moreover, S.D. Admin. R. §24:05:27:16 affords a wide range of disability accommodations, including parental counseling and training. There are also a variety of guidelines governing discipline for disabled students. For example, S.D. Admin. R. §24:05:26:09.03 states that students with disabilities may not be suspended for more than ten consecutive days without a manifestation determination review (MDR).
Disability as a Mitigating Factor in South Dakota
Disabilities Affecting Academic Progression Issues in South Dakota
When students with disabilities enroll in an academic program, accommodations will also help them adhere to a school's academic progression policies. These semester and cumulative-based guidelines are typically referred to as satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policies. Some SAP requirements at South Dakota schools usually include the maintenance of a minimum grade point average, the number of course credits attempted, the percentage of classes passed, and a maximum time frame for graduation. Unfortunately, some schools may fail to adjust their academic standards for disabled students, putting them at risk of failing to graduate with a diploma or degree. If such a situation occurs, a student's disability rights are a defense against unfair treatment. National education lawyer Joseph D. Lento can defend your opportunity for FAPE and the ability to secure accommodations for SAP guidelines.
Disabilities Affecting Misconduct Discipline in South Dakota
Disabilities don't only affect program access and academic guidelines, though. Like any other student, students with disabilities can have misconduct allegations levied against them by school disciplinary personnel. Emotional, mental, and physical disabilities will influence how a student handles grievance procedures. The process's fast-paced investigative, hearing, and sanctioning phases can cause immense stress for students, affecting their capacity to defend themselves. Students with conditions like ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others are at risk just as students with physical disa