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National Federation of the Blind, COPAA, and NAACP Settle Lawsuit against United States DoE

Thursday, February 6, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

DOE to Reopen Investigations, Allow Appeals

The National Federation of the Blind, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have resolved the lawsuit they brought against the United States Department of Education (DOE). The suit was filed when DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) changed the way it handles discrimination complaints, by revising its case processing manual, in March of 2018. The changes required OCR to dismiss discrimination complaints without investigating if an individual or organization had filed complaints before, or when complaints were filed against multiple schools or colleges. The right to appeal was also eliminated. DOE revised the manual again to roll back some of the changes in November of 2018, but the status of complaints that had already been dismissed under the March 2018 procedures was not resolved.

Under the agreement, OCR has reopened all the nearly 700 disability rights complaints it dismissed and will investigate them following the complaint investigation processes as of November 2018. In addition, complainants who were denied the right to appeal the dismissal of their complaints between March and November of 2018 will be able to do so.

“As America’s civil rights organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind routinely combats discrimination by K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, often manifest as the use of inaccessible technology and materials,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Department of Education OCR investigations are an important avenue for protecting the rights of blind students. We are therefore proud of the work we have done with our partners to ensure the civil rights of the blind and of others who experience discrimination in education.”

Attorneys involved: Eve Hill, Brooke Lierman, and Anisha Queen

View press release pdf.

View settlement agreement.


TIME-SENSITIVE ACTION NEEDED: COPAA Members - Appeal Any of Your OCR Complaint Dismissal before April 10, 2020


Per the settlement agreement with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, individuals whose OCR complaints were dismissed for insufficient evidence between March 5, 2018, and November 19, 2018, may appeal the dismissal but have only until April 10, 2020, to do so.

 An appeal can be filed electronically, by mail, or by fax. You must either submit a completed online appeal form or mail a written statement of no more than ten pages (double spaced, if typed): if submitted by mail, send to the Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202; if submitted via e-mail, send to OCR@ed.gov; if submitted via fax, send to 202-453-6012. The filing date of an appeal is the date the appeal is postmarked, submitted electronically, or submitted via fax.

In the appeal, you must explain why you believe the factual information was incomplete or incorrect, the legal analysis was incorrect or the appropriate legal standard was not applied, and how correction of any error(s) would change the outcome of the case; failure to do so may result in dismissal of the appeal.



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