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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: May 2, 2013

The Office of Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance reminding school districts that retaliation against someone who has opposed discriminatory action is a violation of federal law.  The guidance letter clarifies existing law and notes that once a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally to a school about a potential civil rights violation or participates in an OCR investigation or proceeding, the school district is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidation, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual's complaint or participation.  If OCR finds there has been retaliation, they will seek to obtain a resolution designed to ensure the individual who was retaliated against receives redress and that further retaliation is prohibited.  If resolution is not achieved, enforcement action including adjusting financial assistance available from the Department of Education or judicial proceedings may be taken.  The guidance also provides examples of the types of action that OCR may require school districts to take to ensure compliance in the future.

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