Civil Rights Community Urges Modernized Rule to Enforce Disability Rights

Education News 12.5.22

Contact: Mattie Goldman, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, joined by 29 national civil and human rights organizations, called on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to update and strengthen the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects disabled students from discrimination. This foundational civil rights law promises equal educational opportunity and the enforcing regulations should be updated to ensure that promise is real in the lives of students.

The joint comment states: “We, the civil and human rights community, support the full inclusion and protection of people, including children, with disabilities. Students with disabilities vary from one another in a multitude of ways, although all students with disabilities are protected from discrimination under Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As organizations that care deeply about ending disability-based discrimination and ensuring equal educational opportunities, we support updated Section 504 regulations that protect children with disabilities from discrimination. We firmly believe that disability rights are civil rights.”

The comment recommends vital updates and clarifications to secure welcoming school environments free from discrimination for students with disabilities, including but not limited to:

  • Ensuring protections for students with disabilities from the use of restraint, seclusion, and corporal punishment.
  • Including stronger language regarding the Child Find obligation of districts and schools to identify all potentially eligible children.
  • Clarifying that children with disabilities should be excluded from threat assessment processes.
  • Requiring 504 plans to be written documents that are created through the consultation of a group of school professionals and a legal parent or guardian.
  • Requiring higher education institutions to accept Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 plans as proof of disability.
  • Providing clarity on the requirements of entities to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and an education free from discrimination to students with disabilities in childcare, preschool, prekindergarten, and Early Head Start/Head Start settings.

Read the full comment here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit