A new strategy?

This week, the Denver-based Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People filed a federal complaint alleging that a Colorado school district’s pilot voucher plan discriminates against children with special needs. The voucher program would provide “only limited services (if any) for students with disabilities” and violates not only the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protecting civil rights law, reads the complaint to the Justice Department. “Parents of students with disabilities do not have the same choice to participate in this program,” the center states.

This, of course, comes just a month after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar complaint to the Justice Department alleging that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, and two schools in particular, also violate both ADA and Section 504 by discriminating against students with disabilities and further segregating Milwaukee students. “Proposed legislation to substantially expand the voucher program, if implemented, will exacerbate the discrimination against and segregation of students with disabilities by permitting more schools to participate in the program,” the ACLU states.

The Milwaukee program did indeed expand to Racine, Wis., just as many private school options passed state legislatures during the past several months. Will we be seeing more complaints like these as one strategy to reverse the momentum?

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit