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Special Education Listserv

Subject: Guidance from the Office of Civil Rights on Students with Disabilities Access to Athletic Extracurricular Activities

Source: Dr. Stephen Barr, Assistant Commissioner

Intended Audience: Superintendents, Administrators, Special Education Directors, and Special Education Instructors

Date: January 28, 2013

The Office of Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education has issued new guidance detailing school districts’ legal obligations to provide students with disabilities equal access to athletics activities.  The guidance letter clarifies existing law and encourages school districts to improve and expand upon athletic opportunities for students with disabilities.  The guidance provides examples of the types of reasonable modifications that schools may be required to make to existing policies, practices, or procedures.  The guidance also notes that the law does not require that a student with a disability be allowed to participate in any selective or competitive program offered by a school district, so long as the selection or competition criteria are not discriminatory.  The analysis is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The guidance letter can be found at  Questions about this guidance should be addressed to the Kansas City Regional Office for OCR at U.S. Department of Education, 8930 Ward Parkway, Suite 2037, Kansas City, MO 64114-3302, Telephone: (816) 268-0550, Facsimile: (816) 268-0599 or email