UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES *Formatting change s made on January 13, 2017 Page 1 of 2 Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools This document is designed to help parents, students, and the charter school community better understand the rights of students with disabilities under Federal disability-related laws. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) , which the Office for Civil Rights enforces , prohibi ts disability -based discrimination. T he Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) , administered by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, provides Federal funds to States, and through them, local educational agencies , to assist in providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. Section 504 • Charter school students with disabilities (and those seeking to attend) have the same Section 504 rights as other public school students with disabilities. Among other things, these rights include : a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which under Section 504 is regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of a student with a disability as adequately as the n eeds of nondisabled students are met; equal treatment and nondiscrimination in nonacademic and extracurricular activities such as counseling services and sports ; and accessibility (such as entrance ramps for people who use wheelchairs). • Section 504 requires c harter schools to conduct any recruitment activities and provide the opportunity to appl y to a charter school on an equal basis . • Section 504 FAPE requirements for placements are separate from requirements related to admission procedures. Section 504 provides that a charter school’s admission criteria may not exclude or discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability , and that a school may not discriminate in its admissions process. D uring the admissions process, a charter school generally may not ask a prospective student if he or she has a disability . Limited exceptions includ e that, if a school is chartered to serve students with a specific disability , the school may ask prospective students if they have that disability. When a student with a disability is admitted to and enrolls in a charter school, the student is entitled to FAPE under Section 504. A fter enrollment, a charter school may ask if a student has a disability , which includes, e.g., whether a student has an individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. • A charter school may not counsel out, i.e. , try to convince a student (or parents) that the student should not attend (or continue to attend) the s chool because the student has a disability.
This document is designed to help parents, students, and the charter school community better understand the rights of students with disabilities under Federal disability-related laws.
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Last modified on June 27, 2017