Education Lawyers Advocate for Your Rights


Battling discrimination at school or college

Have you or your child been discriminated against in a school or college environment? Few things are more important than receiving an education. Being unfairly deprived of that privilege is a denial of your rights that we take seriously.

Learning differences and neurological and physical impairments can be obstacles in pursuit of an education. If you know someone that needs special accommodations because of neurological, physical or learning disabilities, we can help. We have more than 70 years of combined experience helping clients with cases involving the following:

  • Due process hearings
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other special education issues
  • Manifestation determinations
  • Title IX litigation
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Negotiation of special accommodations

Protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. It defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity.

You are considered disabled under the ADA if you:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities
  • Have a record of such impairment or
  • Are regarded as having such impairment

How does the ADA relate to other state and federal laws regarding education of individuals with disabilities?

The ADA works in concert with other state and federal laws affecting the education of students with disabilities. In some instances there will be duplicate coverage and an individual situation will be covered under more than one law, such as IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. When this happens, whichever law or portion of a law provides the greatest protection for the individual with a disability will prevail.

Can a student who does not qualify for special education services be protected by the ADA?

As long as the person meets the criteria established in the ADA's definition of a person with a disability, he or she would be protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA defines an individual with a disability as someone who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual
  • Has a record of such an impairment
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment

There may be instances where an individual meets these criteria even though he or she is not eligible for special education. However, virtually all children who meet IDEA eligibility criteria will be protected by the ADA and Section 504 as well. Such a person would have rights and protections under all three laws.

Contact an experienced Massachusetts special education law attorney today

O’Connell & Plumb, P.C. protects your child’s rights to a fair education. Call our Springfield, Massachusetts office at 413.733.9111 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.

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$2.5 million dollar settlement recently obtained in an employment discrimination case.

In a recent employment discrimination case, the firm obtained a $1.4 million jury verdict for a client.