Office for Civil Rights Addresses Asthma, Diabetes, Food Allergies, and GERD; Issues Guidance on Medical Conditions Triggering Protections Under Section 504

February 20, 2024, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released individual guidance documents on asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The documents address how these medical conditions “can be disabilities for purposes of Section 504 . . . when these medical conditions trigger protections under Section 504, what kind of modifications an educational institution may need to take to avoid unlawful discrimination, and what an institution may need to do to remedy past discrimination.”

In addition, they provide descriptions of the medical conditions and examples of how the conditions can affect a student’s experience in school.

OCR Case No 11-23-4044 Resolution Agreement

VDOE Guided School Divisions Statewide to Engage in Discrimination; Office for Civil Rights and VDOE Enter Into Resolution Agreement

Office for Civil Rights determined Virginia Department of Education discriminated against thousands of students who have disabilities during its Spring 2023 field testing.

Office for Civil Rights Opens Investigation Into Virginia Department of Education; Did VDOE’s COVID-19 Guidance Lead School Divisions to Deny FAPE to Students Who Have Disabilities?

June 7 and June 9, 2023, Office for Civil Rights issued letters for cases 11-23-4044 and 11-23-4004 to Virginia Department of Education and stated OCR was opening the following legal issues for investigation:

June 7, 2003, Case No. 11-23-4044:

“Complainant alleged that VDOE discriminated against students with disabilities by failing to provide an audio the accommodation for a Standard of Learning (SOL) reading and writing field test assessment for the 2022-2023 school year.”

June 9, 2003, Case No. 11-23-4004:

“Whether the VDOE’s guidance regarding the provision of special education and related services during the COVID-19 pandemic led school divisions to deny FAPE to students with disabilities.”

Office for Civil Rights vs. Virginia Dept. of Ed: Two Agencies, Two Investigations, Two Very Different Outcomes, Part I

In 2020, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) received a systemic complaint against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). In response, it refused to investigate some of the allegations, changed and/or ignored other allegations, and ultimately found FCPS in compliance.

In 2022, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found FCPS at fault for years-long systemic noncompliance, based on some of the very allegations filed in the 2020 systemic complaint. 

What happened? How could VDOE make a finding of compliance in 2020, while OCR made a finding of noncompliance in 2022? 

The answer: VDOE failed to investigate credible allegations of noncompliance and failed to comply with 300.152(4), which requires it to “review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the public agency is violating a requirement of Part B of the Act or of this part”, and FCPS withheld information.

FCPS Ignores Office for Civil Rights; Noncompliance Continues, Part I

Fairfax County Public Schools was found at fault for massive systemic noncompliance by Office for Civil Rights. November 30, 2022, OCR released its letter of findings and resolution agreement with FCPS. The latter outlines steps FCPS is required to take to address the 25,000+ students with IEPs or 504 plans that it failed between April 2020 and June 2022.

Yet, not even OCR’s findings, or the fact FCPS entered into a resolution agreement with OCR, seem to have what it takes to put even a temporary stop to FCPS’s noncompliance.

U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Releases Investigation into Another Virginia Agency’s Denial of FAPE

Less than three weeks apart, U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released investigation findings of noncompliance on two Virginia education agencies.

November 30, 2022, OCR released its letter of findings in response to its investigation of Fairfax County Public Schools.

December 16, 2022, OCR released its letter of findings in response to its investigation of Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs, which, like FCPS, is under the Virginia Department of Education.

Office of Civil Rights Finds Fairfax County Public Schools in Noncompliance; FCPS Must Provide Compensatory Education to Students

November 30, 2022, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is at fault for civil rights violations and OCR released the resolution reached following its investigation of FCPS.

This follows OCR’s January 12, 2021, announcement that it would investigate FCPS, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Seattle Public Schools.