Tuesday, July 21, 2015

25 Years - The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law twenty-five years ago on July 26, 1990, to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities. This legislation established a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. 

Title II is part of the ADA’s “clear and comprehensive national mandate” to end discrimination against and ensure equality of opportunity for persons with disabilities.  42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1), (7).  At the time of the ADA’s enactment, Congress found that such discrimination persisted in virtually all aspects of American life, including in “education … and access to public services.”  See id. § 12101(a)(3).  Congress further found that the isolation and segregation of individuals with disabilities “continue[d] to be a serious and pervasive social problem.”  Id. § 12101(a)(2).  The directives of Title II, its regulations and guidance, in addition to relevant jurisprudence, demonstrate that Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against and unnecessary segregation of students with disabilities in educational settings.

To illustrate this point, a recent DOJ Letter of Findings, issued 7/15/2015, found that the State of Georgia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by serving students with disabilities affecting behaviors in segregated schools and classrooms.  The letter states that Georgia unnecessarily segregated these students, most of whom could be served in general education settings with appropriate supports, and failed to provide them equal educational opportunities.  The students in segregated settings did not have access to curriculum incorporating state standards; were served in inferior physical facilities; and did not get to participate in extracurricular activities.

Patty Murray
Read the Letter of Findings here.  

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