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What can DOJ do?

The Educational Opportunities Section has authority to enforce Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 USC §§ 12131 et seq., which prohibits discrimination based on disability by state and local entities, including schools. The ADA was enacted in 1990 to address discrimination against persons with disabilities (see also the  ADA homepage). Title II of the ADA provides that no individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, program, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.  

The Section can also enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §701 et seq. when the Department of Justice provides federal funding to the recipient or upon referral from other governmental agencies. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits the exclusion, the denial of benefits, and discrimination by reason of disability in programs or activities receiving federal funds.

In our cases, we have concluded that school districts’ seclusion practices violated federal law, by, for example:

  1. Denying students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from an education program;
  2. Using eligibility criteria that effectively subject students with disabilities to discrimination;
  3. Failing to make reasonable modifications to avoid disability discrimination; or
  4. Failing to serve students with disabilities in the most integrated setting.

Once receiving a complaint, the Section may open an investigation into a school district’s seclusion policies and practices, and may work to remedy any legal violations through voluntary settlement agreements or litigation.

For recent settlement agreements resulting from EOS enforcement, visit the Seclusion Enforcement – Recent Investigations page.

Updated September 7, 2022