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Federal Lawsuit: Oregon Failing to Ensure That All Children Can Attend a Full day of School

Parents & Advocates Call for Equal Access to Classrooms for Students with Disabilities

 

PORTLAND, OR - The State of Oregon has effectively denied hundreds of children with disabilities the opportunity to attend school for a full day, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The lawsuit alleges that public schools throughout Oregon unnecessarily shorten the school day of children whose disabilities lead to challenging classroom behaviors, and that the state violates federal law by failing to take the steps necessary to ensure that these students receive the education to which they are entitled. The lawsuit was filed by parents of children who have been deprived of the opportunity to attend a full day of school and by local and national disability advocates.

Children in Oregon as young as five- and six-years-old are routinely excluded from attending a full school day with their peers because of their disability-related behaviors. Their school districts often make these decisions without first adequately considering and developing services or supports that would allow the students to successfully attend school for the full day. According to the lawsuit, some of these children receive as little as one or two hours of instruction a day instead of the six hours their classmates typically receive. Even when they are permitted to attend school, their instruction often takes place in a separate classroom where they have little or no opportunity to interact and learn with their non-disabled peers, despite abundant research and evidence that they are far more likely to enjoy academic and social success when allowed to do so. 

 

Read the Oregon Complaint.



 

COPAA CHALLENGES SECRETARY DEVOS’S DECISION TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION OF EQUITY IN IDEA REGULATION

Thursday, July 12, 2018   (1 Comments

WASHINGTON, DC -   The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for abdicating its responsibility to protect the civil rights of students. The suit alleges that the Department has taken actions that interfere with USDOE’s obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure children with disabilities get the education services they need in the most appropriate setting without regard to their race.

COPAA filed the suit against the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos and Johnny W. Collett, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, to challenge the Department’s notice delaying the implementation of regulations on significant disproportionality, known as the Equity in IDEA regulations.  The Department's actions are legally flawed and bad policy that stall much needed reform. 

Read More About COPAA Lawsuit Against USDOE for Delaying Regs on Significant Disproportionality

 


 

Civil Rights Groups Sue Department of Education Over Process of Dismissing Discrimination Claims

Thursday, May 31, 2018   (1 Comments

COPAA’s national network of 2100+ members works to protect the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.  Our members are at work wherever the voices of families and students need to be heard and COPAA supports them with resources, training, and information to assist in obtaining the equal opportunity for education those children deserve and are entitled to under federal law.  However, in its 20 year history, COPAA itself, has never before filed litigation on behalf of its members.  We have had to take that extraordinary step for the first time because a federal agency has unlawfully abdicated its responsibility to enforce the civil rights of students.

 

Today COPAA,The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed suit against the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos and Candice Jackson, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, to challenge the Department’s changes to its complaint handling process to strip students with disabilities and students of color of their rights. 

 

In March, 2018, the federal Department of Education amended the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Case Processing Manual unilaterally and without public notice and comment. The changes include new provisions to mandatorily dismiss certain complaints and the elimination of complainants’ right to appeal OCR decisions.  It is the legal responsibility and stated mission of OCR to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools. As part of that mission, OCR is supposed to investigate complaints made under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Titles VI and IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 concerning individual or systemic claims of discrimination.  By opting out of that mission and abdicating its responsibility, OCR is pushing the responsibility for civil rights enforcement onto the shoulders of students and their families and advocates – onto COPAA’s members – who do not have the resources of the federal government at their disposal.

 

Read More About the Lawsuit Filed by COPAA, NFB, and NAACP against OCR.

Update:

Changes to OCR Manual Demonstrate Legal Pressure is Working

Tuesday, November 20, 2018   

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Right's (OCR) announcement of new updates to the Case Processing Manual, Denise Marshall, executive director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates made the following statement:

"Today's announcement by OCR shows that recent legal action taken against them is working. While we are still reviewing the reported updates to the manual, we remain steadfast in our commitment to assuring that the needed changes are substantive and put the rights of students and their families first. OCR's mission is 'to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools.' It's COPAA's right to use every available strategy to ensure they take steps to fulfill that mission rather than make decisions that run counter to it."


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