Pew Research tells us that, in uniquely challenging times for educators and students, disabilities continue to put many students at a marked disadvantage. Schools tasked with positioning students of all ages for success often fail to provide the disability-specific accommodations they are legally required to.
When schools fail to accommodate students' needs, it is often the student who pays the price. Learning difficulties, behavioral struggles, and other disability-related challenges lead to poor marks, lack of academic progress, and behavioral sanctions. The Lento Law Firm Team works to hold schools accountable by ensuring that students avoid unfair penalties and receive the accommodations they deserve.
If your student is facing academic or disciplinary consequences because of a Pennsylvania school's failure to provide reasonable accommodations, call the Lento Law Firm today for assistance.
Legally Protected Rights of All Disabled Students in Pennsylvania
Though there is some gray area when it comes to disabilities, one fact is set in law: Students with diagnosed disabilities have legal protections and a reasonable expectation of accommodations.
The IDEA Protects Every Disabled Student in Pennsylvania
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) is legislation that we often cite when representing students with disabilities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education explains that the IDEA is federal legislation governing services for students with disabilities. Among other protections, the IDEA calls for:
- Disabled students to learn alongside their non-disabled peers, with “appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments” helping to close the gap between those with disabilities and those without
- Every disabled student to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE)
- The creation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which include written acknowledgment of the accommodations that a disabled student should receive from their school or school district
The phrase “appropriate accommodations” often arises within the IDEA and other federal legislation protecting disabled students. Nationwide Education Lawyer Joseph D. Lento strives to ensure that every disabled student receives these reasonable accommodations, as well as freedom from unjust consequences based on a disability.
Accommodations are rights, not optional services that a school or district can choose not to provide.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Further Strengthens Federal Protections for Your Disabled Student in Pennsylvania
While the IDEA and Pennsylvania statutes provide ample protection for disabled students, the Americans with Disabilities Act may also be relevant to your student's circumstances. As the United States Department of Education explains, the ADA generally prohibits:
- Denying a disabled student access to an educational program or facility
- Denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education
- Refusing to “implement academic adjustments” for disabled students in secondary educational institutions
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides broad protections for students of all ages. Our firm understands this legislation inside and out, and we will identify any ADA violation that has come at your student's expense.
Even Pennsylvania Law Protects Your Student
Pennsylvania law further codifies protections for disabled students. 22 Pa. Code Chapter 14 contains several statutes detailing the assessment, placement, and accommodation of students with disabilities in Pennsylvania. Among other mandates, these statutes require that:
- Eligible students have access to special education services and programs
- Educational institutions throughout Pennsylvania conform to the mandates of the IDEA and ADA (including reasonable accommodations to promote student success)
- Students with disabilities have reasonable access to the general curriculum, which may require them to have one or more accommodations
Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania Code specifically protects students with physical, psychological, and emotional disabilities from discrimination. This chapter also requires schools and school districts to provide reasonable accommodations based on such disabilities.
Reasonable Disability-Related Accommodations for Students in Pennsylvania
We've referenced “reasonable accommodations” often, but the definition of this term varies on a case-by-case basis. Some of the common accommodations that educators and their employers should be willing to extend to disabled students include:
- A concerted effort to help a disabled student succeed before relegating them to special education
- Extra testing time
- Private testing environments
- Modified schedules
- The ability to record lectures
- Frequent or even scheduled breaks from tests and lectures
- Modified learning materials
- Aids, tutors, and other forms of assistance
These are just a few examples of accommodations that may improve a disabled student's chances of success. If necessary, disabled students should also have access to special education programs, whether these programs make up a portion or the entirety of their educational experience.
Disability as a Mitigating Factor in Pennsylvania Student Issues
Experienced Education Attorney Joseph D. Lento has seen schools punish disabled students for adverse reactions to psychoactive medication, prolonged academic struggles,