Students with disabilities can encounter obstacles while working toward graduating with a diploma or degree from one of Vermont's schools. They may face challenges with peers and social situations, stressful academic tasks, and acquiring disability accommodations. Nevertheless, students with disabilities aren't alone in their pursuits. One study asserts that one in five students enrolled in colleges and universities nationwide live with a disability. No matter what type of disability—emotional, mental, or physical—state and federal laws compel schools catering to any level of education to provide reasonable accommodations for qualifying disabilities. However, Vermont's schools sometimes refuse to grant legally-required program modifications to disabled students, endangering their equal education access and graduation prospects. If your K-12 school, college or university, or other academic program refuses to recognize your disability and provide reasonable accommodations, contact national education lawyer Joseph D. Lento. He and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team are prepared to defend your disability rights.
Disabled Student Rights in Vermont
Disability Accommodations in Vermont
The U.S. federal government performs a significant role in providing and protecting disability accommodations in educational settings. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights clarifies that students enrolled in K-12 schools are guaranteed a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE). Moreover, students with disabilities must be educated in the "least restrictive environment;" therefore, they can't be excluded from majority student settings. The primary federal law affording students access to disability accommodations is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, K-12 schools must identify students' emotional, mental, and physical impairments and manage their education through an individualized education plan (IEP). Furthermore, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act directs Vermont's colleges and universities to provide accommodations for students with qualifying disabilities. Accommodations disabled students may receive are augmentative or enhancive equipment or services, facility conversions, academic calendar modifications, alternative assessment methods, and other provisions guaranteeing FAPE for students.
ADA Issues and Lawsuits in Vermont
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also directs Vermont's institutions of higher education to accommodate qualifying disabilities. The ADA covers a myriad of physical disabilities like diabetes, heart disease, paralysis, and other cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and neurological issues. The act also protects students with intellectual and emotional disabilities like anxiety disorders, learning incapacities, and psychiatric conditions requiring physician-prescribed medication or therapy. The U.S. government's ADA guidelines and disability rights will be enforced through formal lawsuits or civil actions. For example, a lawsuit was filed against a Vermont juvenile rehabilitation center for allegedly using restraints on children with disabilities.
Vermont State Disability Laws
Vermont's state disability laws generally track with federal laws. The Vermont Agency of Education's (VAE) Special Education Rules §2360.2.2 states that a student who has not yet graduated by age 21 may be allowed to complete the remaining academic year with IEP team approval. The VAE also states in the same document in §2360.2.9 that the local education agency will afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in extracurricular activities. Moreover, disabled students may receive non-academic services, including counseling services and assistance in making employment available. If you or someone you love is a Vermont student with a disability, no matter how narrow the state's laws regarding disabled students are, you can secure program or service access.
Disability as a Mitigating Factor in Vermont
Disabilities Affecting Academic Progression Issues in Vermont
Although students with disabilities have the right to access any academic program, they must also abide by a school's academic progression policies. Generally outlined as satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policies, the guidelines are comprised of a semester or cumulative academic requirements. Some standard SAP provisions are minimum grade point averages, the number of course credits attempted, the percentage of course credits passed, and a maximum timeline for graduation. However, Vermont's schools may fail or refuse to modify their academic standards for disabled students. If such a situation arises, a student's disability rights are a foundation of defense against unjust treatment. National education lawyer Joseph D. Lento can fight for your right to academic disability accommodations, ensuring your path toward graduation.
Disabilities Affecting Misconduct Discipline in Vermont
When students with disabilities face misconduct allegations, their conditions will also influence how they handle the school's grievance procedures. The stages of the process require evidence gathering, witness testimony, and hearings with administrative personnel and disciplinary officials. Any emotional, mental, or physical disability can affect a student's ability to defend themselves. Regardless, state and federal disability laws compel schools to provide accommodations for students that may have a diagnosis like ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome,