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Running head: LEGAL RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 1 PY O C T PY O Legal Rights of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education N Jamie Merritt O O C
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  Running head: LEGAL RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 1 Legal Rights of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education Jamie Merritt University of Southern California  LEGAL RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 2 Legal Rights of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education Introduction The number of students with disabilities at institutions of higher education is increasing. Since the 1980’s, the percentage of students reporting having a disability, either mental or physical, has increase from 16% to around 40% (Wilhelm, 2003). This phenomenon can be traced to many causes including the relatively recent discovery of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and more, and the enactment of policy for students with disabilities in elementary through high school, such as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975 (becoming the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997), which allowed student with disabilities to develop their entitlement of equal opportunities (Wilhelm, 2003). While the number of students with disabilities attending institutions of higher education is increasing, it is still less likely (around four times) for a student with disabilities to attend college than their peers without disabilities (Plotner & Marshall, 2014). This can be attributed to the fact that universities are slowly advancing accessibility to students with disabilities (Thomas, 2000). However, advancements and legal cases have increased since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) due to its broader coverage (Thomas, 2000). This paper will discuss the rules of law associated with students with disabilities in higher education and a literature review of the interpretations of the rules of law, including issues of higher education admissions and accommodations on campus. Rules of Law  LEGAL RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 3 Before 1973, the only federal law that provided protection for persons with disabilities was the 14 th  amendment (Thomas, 2000). This law requires states to provide “equal protection of the laws”  to all citizens of the United States and of the state where they reside (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1). In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed and states that “no otherwise qualified person due to disability may be denied the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” ( Thomas, 2000). While this only applies to institutions that receive federal financial aid, this constituent applies to all public and most private colleges. In addition, even if aid is received anywhere at an institution, the entire school must comply with this Act (Thomas, 2000). In order to demonstrate compliance with this Act, a college must demonstrate seven services: file a document of assurance of compliance stating a non-discrimination promise, provide notice to students of this promise, name a specific employee to coordinate compliance, conduct self-evaluations, voluntarily develop corrections to those circumstances that may have limited the participation of students with disabilities, adopt grievance procedures, and94 fix violations of the act in a timely manner (Thomas, 2000). The federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces this Act (Kutnak, 2015). Passed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public (Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990)). Title I of ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state  LEGAL RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 4 and local governments (42 U.S.C. § 12101). Under Title II of ADA, it is prohibited for public entities, including public colleges and private college that employ public spaces, from denying qualified persons with disabilities the right to participate in or benefit from the services, programs, or activities that they provide (42 U.S.C. § 12132; 9). In addition, Title III of ADA further prohibits discrimination of persons with disabilities from receiving “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that a public entity provides (42 U.S.C. § 12182(a)). Feasible claims under ADA include discrimination, harassment, forceful withdrawal, and retaliation (Thomas, 2000). The OCR and Division of Justice were responsible for enforcing the ADA until amendment in 2008 (Thomas, 2000). The ADA was amended in 2008, now called Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), to broaden the definition of disability. Under this amendment, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) now defines disability as, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability” (Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (2008)). The ADAAA is enforced by the EEOC (Kutnak, 2015). For more information regarding how each law applies to different institutions, see a table in Appendix A. Literature Review Interpretations of Laws in Admissions
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