Sadly discrimination against children with disabilities is something that still happens, despite the numerous civil rights laws designed to prevent it.
Discrimination against children with disabilities can disrupt their learning, which can be very distressing. Children with special needs already have struggles learning, and their school environment should not be creating additional obstacles for them to overcome.
Discrimination in schools can be subtle. To learn the common signs, please check out this blog post!
Once you realize the discrimination is happening there are several steps you as a concerned parent should of course take. We here at Cueto Law have compiled a list of common ones, that we are happy to share with you.
Download our free checklist to take our tips and tricks on the go with you!
Document all Incidents of Discrimination
When you are trying to fix the issue with teachers, staff, and school administrators you want to have specific examples in mind of what you’re talking about.
Keep a record of what you’re talking about to demonstrate to the school that this is an ongoing issue. These documentations can be writing down dates and times your child told you about instances of bullying, arguments with teachers, or any time someone created a hostile environment for them.
Additionally, documentation may look like harshly graded schoolwork or records of excessive punishment. It can really be anything that indicates your child is being subjected to a hostile learning environment because of their disability.
You want to keep your own records. Do not rely on the school to do so.
Start with the Teachers
Anytime you have a concern with your child’s learning environment or school life you should start with the teachers. If your child is in elementary school this can be their classroom teacher. If in middle school or high school, it can be the teacher closest to the incidents in question.
Start with emails, and keep them short and brief, and specific. Teachers are busy people who tend to skim emails out of necessity.
Be firm but polite. Don’t back down because this is about your child’s wellbeing.
Keep all responses and what they say they will do about it.
If emails go unnoticed or no follow-through action is taken, ask to schedule a meeting. Remember to not be openly hostile, as this will make people less likely to want to work with you.
Go Up the Food Chain
If the teachers cannot or are unable or unwilling to help, you can start the same process over again with the special education director at the school or the principal.
Don’t get frustrated. Fighting discrimination against kids with special needs takes time.
Schedule meetings and calls and present your concerns and what you have that demonstrates a pattern of discrimination.
Common Questions to ask Administrator
- What is the school’s policy on special education and discrimination?
- Do you require professional development seminars on antibias and nondiscriminatory practices?
- What training does the school offer to teachers and staff about special education?
- Do you offer additional services that can better help my child function in the school?
- What concrete steps do you plan on taking to make the school environment less hostile towards my child?
Take notes during the meeting on all responses and document what action the administrator takes or fails to take after the meeting.
What does the law say?
There is no federal law that dictates what a school has to do if someone is being bullied or discriminated against.
However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws.
If bullying, harsh grading, or excessive punishments are based on your child’s disability, and the school does nothing, this is considered a discriminatory practice.
For more information please click here.
What Else Can I do?
If school administrators are still ignoring you, you have a few options. You can go up to the district level to express your concerns and contact your superintendent directly.
Make sure to download our free checklist to take these tips and tricks with you on the go!
You can also contact a lawyer to go over the specifics of your discrimination case. We at Cueto Law offer free consultations and do not charge for our services unless we win your case. You can call us at 618-277-1554 to discuss specifics.