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Obligations to Disabled Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued a fact sheet to remind public schools of their obligations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to disabled students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Section 504 is a federal law that guarantees equal access to educational services to disabled students in public schools.

In its fact sheet, the OCR emphasizes that, regardless of how a public school currently provides instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school’s obligation to provide an appropriate public education to disabled students continues. To ensure that each disabled student is being provided an appropriate public education, the OCR explains that schools must ensure that a group of persons knowledgeable about the disabled student – e.g., family members, teachers, school administrators, and/or doctors – meet to determine if the school should change the evaluations or services being provided to the student due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a public school fails to provide appropriate evaluations or services to a disabled student as a result of the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the same group of persons must meet to determine if compensatory services are required to make up for any loss in evaluations or services the disabled student did not receive.

To read this fact sheet, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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