Placing Student on Homebound for Most of His Senior Year Violated 504

     In Logan County(WV) School, 55 IDELR 297 (OCR 2010), the Office for Civil Rights found that the school district violated Section 504 when it placed a student with disabilities on homebound instruction most of his senior year of high school. The student with Fabry disease, a genetic condition that affects bodily functions, was placed on homebound instruction from October through the end of his senior year. As a result, he was also not able to attend his class senior party because school district policy categorically denied students on homebound instruction the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. After graduating, the student filed a complaint with OCR alleging the school district had discriminated against him on the basis of disability.

     During the investigation  OCR found that the student had the same 504 plan throughout his four years of high school. Moreover, the 504 plan did NOT address homebound instruction.  OCR found that the school district violated Section 504. 

     Section 504 requires that the district evaluate a student with a disability before making a significant change in placement. Here, the district significantly changed this student’s placement when it placed him on homebound instruction during most of his senior year. But the district did not reevaluate the student before the change in placement. The district had also not reevaluated him for his entire four years of high school. Once he was on homebound instruction district policy denied him access to extracurricular activities. Section 504 requires that students with disabilities have equal access to nonacademic and extracurricular activities. Thus, the district also violated Section 504 by categorically denying access to extracurricular activities to students with disabilities on homebound instruction.

     To resolve the complaint the school district agreed to revise its policies: (1)  to ensure that students with disabilities who receive homebound instruction or are unable to be in school during regular school hours are able to participate in extracurricular activities and (2) to ensure students with disabilities are reevaluated before being placed on homebound instruction. Moreover, the district agreed to evaluate the student(who had now graduated) to determine if  any educational loss  had occurred over his four years of instruction without a reevaluation and his loss of access to extracurricular activities. If there was an educational loss, the district must develop a plan to provide compensatory education services to make up for that loss. Obviously, since the student has graduated, the compensatory services will need to be provided post graduation.

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