New Guidance on Responding to Bullying of Students with Disabilities

Post date: November 5, 2014
By: Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
kid alone in school hallwayBullying is wrong and must not be tolerated. The sad reality, though, is that bullying persists in our schools today, especially for America’s 6.75 million students with disabilities in our public schools. Bullying raises civil rights concerns under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which are two federal laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigates and resolves complaints of disability discrimination at public schools. OCR recently issued guidance to public schools (available in Spanish) to help school officials understand their federal responsibilities to respond to bullying of students with disabilities. This guidance builds on anti-bullying guidance the U.S. Department of Education has issued in recent years concerning schools’ legal obligations to address bullying, including ensuring that students with disabilities who are bullied continue to receive a free appropriate public education. The guidance describes the rights of students with an individualized education program (IEP) developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as well as the roughly three quarters of a million students with disabilities who are not eligible for IDEA services but who receive a plan developed under Section 504.

OCR also issued a fact sheet for parents (available in Spanish) that addresses key points of the guidance and provides information on where to go for help. To learn more about federal civil rights laws or how to file a complaint, contact OCR at 800-421-3481 (TDD: 800-877-8339), or ocr@ed.gov.

Related Links:

OCR’s website
Fill out a complaint form online.
Bullying, Harassment & Civil Rights Video
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