Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits retaliation. If you, as a student, parent, teacher, or other person whose life may be affected by the school, bring a complaint to the school about a potential civil rights violation, the school is prohibited from retaliating against you because you brought the complaint. The school is also prohibited from retaliating against you if you participate in an investigation into a potential civil rights violation.
Retaliation can take many forms. Often, the form fits the role of the individual whom the school is retaliating against. For a teacher, coach, or other school personnel, it may look like coercion, harassment, intimidation, threats, etc. For a parent or student, you may be singled out for some form of restriction, condition, requirement, etc. that did not exist before bringing the complaint.
This can get tricky. The key question here is whether the school engaged in the action because the individual brought the complaint and not for some other reason. Schools know this, so when retaliation occurs it is often disguised by the school as some other reason for its actions. The challenge here is proving that the school’s reasons are merely a pretext for retaliation, and that can be tough.
Each case is unique and must be investigated, evaluated, and pursued individually, but as a purely hypothetical example, let’s say a long-standing basketball coach voices a complaint to the school Principal at a recent PTA meeting. Then, shortly afterward, the coach is informed that the school will be relieving him or her of their coaching duties and seeking a new basketball coach for the upcoming season. The school will likely say it is seeking a new coach for a legitimate reason (let’s say it’s the coach’s win-loss record). Whether this is a pretext for retaliation will require proving the school’s given reason is bogus, and/or that the coach would have been allowed to continue coaching if he or she had not raised the complaint. So how might the coach prove it?
That’s where we come in. Ensuring that the rights of students with disabilities are protected depends on the reporting of suspected violations, and fear of retaliation is a big reason why suspected violations are not reported. If you believe a school is retaliating against you for reporting the suspected violation of a disabled student’s rights, then let’s talk about it. Call King Law today at 888-748-KING (5464) to schedule an appointment.
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 34 C.F.R. § 104.61.