Officials used to ban children with autism from schools. Advocates fought for years to get equality for people with disabilities. Now that students on the autism spectrum are in schools, teachers and staff have an obligation to make it a safe space for them. If you have a child with autism who is being bullied, your school is legally required to take action.
Sadly, being bullied is a common occurrence for students on the spectrum. However, if the school demonstrates apathy or even takes action to worsen the bullying, it is a form of discrimination.
What does the law say?
No federal law dictates how a school must respond to bullying.
However, schools receive government funding. Any organization that is funded by the government must comply with federal civil rights laws.
If the bullying is based on your child’s autism, and the school does nothing, the law considers that discrimination.
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How do I know if the school is taking action?
As there is no federal law around bullying, how schools respond might vary.
Common actions might include
- Inquiries into individual incidents
- Discussing how to deal with bullying with affected students
- Checking in with students to make sure harassment has ended
- Appropriate interventions to resolve hostile environments
Take note of how school administration officials respond when you alert them to the problem.
If they seem hostile or as though they are blaming your child for being bullied, that should be a red flag.
Do schools ever make the problem worse?
Yes, sadly. Schools can sometimes make the bullying worse.
Children are very adept at picking up on actions by adults. If students notice that a teacher is often snapping at, short with, or cruel to a student with autism, they might think it is acceptable to bully a child with a disability.
Cueto Law handles cases where we believe schools worsened bullying for students with autism.
What are my Legal Options?
Legal options will vary from case to case. If your school and teachers are discriminating against your child begin documenting all incidents of discrimination and keep a record of communication you have with the staff.
To discuss the specifics of your case visit the Cueto Law website and call us at 618-277-1554 for a free consultation.