Inaccurate and Outdated Training Information Results in 504 Violation

     The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that a training manual used by an educational service agency to train school district staff regarding 504 contained  numerous erroneous statements of the law including incorrect 504 eligibility standards (St. Clair County (MI) Regional Education Service Agency, June 3, 2009, 53 IDELR 238).

     The situation arose when a school principal unilaterally (and erroneously) terminated the 504 plan of a student with asthma on the basis that the student was ineligible because his asthma did not impact his education. When the student’s parent complained, the principal showed the parent a copy of a manual he had received at a training session provided in 2008 by the county Regional Educational Service Agency. The Educational Service Agency served several school districts and regularly held training sessions and provided legal advice to the districts. The parent complained to OCR which found the manual was outdated and inaccurate. 

    The Educational Service Agency explained to OCR that it was in the process of updating its training manuals to align with the ADA Amendments Act. The Office for Civil Rights, however, found that the current manuals were still being used to guide the agency’s decisions and training. The training materials were outdated in light of the ADA Amendments Act, which took effect in January 200. The outdated statements  included the definition of substantial limitation and the use of mitigating measures in determining  disability.

     Moreover, the manuals misstated the 504 standard for a free appropriate public education and inadequate procedural safeguards. Specifically, the manuals defined the definition of disability too narrowly and did not specify that a reevaluation is required before, as here, a student’s placement is terminated or significantly changed.

     In order to resolve OCR’s findings, the agency signed a resolution agreement requiring it to develop and distribute (subject to OCR’s review) new training materials that specifically addressed the deficiencies in the previous materials.

White House Launches 20th Anniversary Celebration of ADA

     This July 26th 2010 will mark the 20th Anniversary of President George H. W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. Last Sunday night, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, kicked off the White House’s celebration of this milestone. Ms. Jarrett delivered remarks to over 2000 people from around the world at the VSA International Festival at the Kennedy Center. VSA is the International Organization on Arts and Disability.

     In her remarks Ms. Jarrett noted the significance of the ADA as landmark civil rights legislation. Referring to the ADA she said: “It was a bill of rights for persons with disabilities, a formal acknowledgement that Americans with disabilities are Americans first and that they’re entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else.” Moreover, she announced that “…over the course of the upcoming weeks we will honor this committment across the country, senior White House officials, cabinet members, members of our administration, and of course the general public will commemorate this historic anniversary through various events, new policy announcements, and other recognitions.”

     For more information regarding celebrating this historic landmark you can go to the National Network of ADA Centers website.


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