Disability Harassment In Schools
It’s hard enough being a kid in today’s world without having to suffer a hostile, intimidating or abusive educational environment. It’s hard enough understanding your place in the rarified and intensified air of a school, understanding the social currents, learning what you need to learn, and planning your future, without having also to contend with hostility or humiliation based upon a disability or a handicap.
Students with learning disabilities or physical challenges have it harder than others. They’ve got more to overcome. They don’t also need their peers or educational professionals to expose them to a hostile, intimidating or abusive school environment simply because they are disabled or handicapped.
In addition to having rights under the state education law to obtain an IEP (Individual Education Plan), a student also has the right to be free of hostility simply because he or she has a disability or handicap.
School professionals and school boards are required, under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, to prevent, investigate and deter harassment based upon disability or even perceived disability. That is to say, even students who are not handicapped or disabled, or who are not as handicapped or disabled as they are perceived to be, have a right to be free of a hostile or intimidating education environment. Even students who have no disability or no handicap at all, but who are targeted by their peers as if they did possess these traits, have the right to be free of such harassment and abuse. Also, school boards mostly honor the IEPs into which they enter, but sometimes they don’t. They count on either a single-parent family or limited economic resources to intimidate the family into just accepting the fact that the school is not going to follow the IEP, for whatever reasons.
Because an IEP is itself a “reasonable accommodation” under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the attorneys at Costello, Mains & Silverman, LLC, are one of the only firms in the state challenging the refusal to follow an IEP on anti-discrimination grounds. We also know how to challenge disability discrimination by way of disability or perceived disability or handicap harassment in the schools, and how to recover compensatory punitive damages and attorneys’ fees for students who are exposed to this sort of conduct without remedy from the school professionals or from the school board of district.
Sometimes the school professionals in the district just don’t want to be bothered or annoyed, and sometimes they want to protect the harassers. We know how to hold them accountable.