If your child has a 504 plan or an IEP then it has been determined that your child has a disability. Depending on the type of bullying, the civil rights of your child may be being violated. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Taunting someone as being a “retard” is disability based bullying. Imitating someone’s physical disability is disability based bullying.
The next section describes civil rights violations and talks about the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). All of the information there applies. The OCR has documents about your rights, here is an excerpt:
When investigating disability-based harassment, OCR considers several factors, including, but not limited to:
- Was a student with a disability bullied by one or more students based on the student’s disability?
- Was the bullying conduct sufficiently serious to create a hostile environment?
- Did the school know or should it have known of the conduct?
- Did the school fail to take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the conduct, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent it from recurring, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects?
If the answer to each of these questions is “yes,” then OCR would find a disability-based harassment violation under Section 504 and, if the student was receiving IDEA FAPE [IEP]or Section 504 FAPE [504 plan] services, OCR would have a basis for investigating whether there was also a denial of FAPE under Section 504.
Even if the answers to one or more of these questions is “no,” for a student who was receiving IDEA FAPE or Section 504 FAPE services, OCR may still consider whether the bullying resulted in a denial of FAPE under Section 504 that must be remedied.
Types of Bullying effecting Civil Rights and the added issues.
If the bullying involves areas of civil rights, and the school does not act quickly and decisively, a civil rights complaint can be filed. The US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has a simple method of filing a complaint. There is no cost, the complaint must surround events of the last 180 days (although there are exceptions), and if accepted, the OCR will do the investigation. The OCR’s authority to resolve complaints extends to allegations of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Note that Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.
The state’s and school district’s bullying policies do not change if a civil right is violated, the actions by the school are expected to be the same. This comes into account if the school does not promptly and properly handle the issue. It can then be escalated to the OCR, again at no cost, without a lawyer.