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Title IX

Why Title IX Extends to Those With Disabilities

By January 6, 2020September 25th, 2023No Comments

Title IX is a component of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  This federal civil rights law states no individual living in the United Sates will be excluded from participation in an educational program or activity in which federal financial assistance is provided simply because of their sex.  Furthermore, this law also states no individual, will be subjected to discrimination or be denied the benefits of such educational programs on the basis of sex. 

Title IX extends beyond sex to the realm of disability.  Educational institutions are required to make accommodations for those with disabilities to minimize or completely eliminate the barriers to services.  Every university and college in the United States must seriously consider requests made for disability accommodations or face potentially harsh legal consequences.  Let’s take a quick look at how Title IX impacts those with disabilities.


Why Title IX Extends to Those With Disabilities

Educational institutions must field requests from those with disabilities in order to help them report acts of misconduct including sexual violence.  Schools are required to implement reasonable accommodations to the Title IX procedures for disabled individuals. In order for such compliance to occur, the school must list its disability services office as a resource, connect Title IX FAQs with disability services and provide assistance in filing complaints for those plagued by disabilities.  Schools are also advised to provide timely deadlines for providing medical information and evaluating that information as well as interacting with the disabled student in question.

The Matter of Requests and the Evaluation of Accommodations for the Disabled 

Once an educational institution has received an accommodation request from a disabled individual, the institution must evaluate whether the student actually has a disability.  This means the school will require medical documentation that supports the disability claim. A Title IX coordinator will likely initiate such a request yet it should not be immediately granted.  If the disability is confirmed, a consultation with the appropriate administrators will be necessary to pinpoint the proper accommodations and determine how to implement them.  

Recent Title IX Actions 

Betsy Devos, the United States Secretary of Education, recently announced the Department of Education has withdrawn from certain Title IX guidelines established during President Obama’s tenure.  In particular, the Dear Colleague letter of 2011 that tasked educational institutions with taking the steps necessary to end sexual violence and sexual harassment is no longer enforced. Unfortunately, this development is bad news for victims of sexual assaults, especially those with disabilities.  The sad truth is those plagued by one or several disabilities are less likely to report sexual abuse or any other form of abuse. About 11% of all college students in the United States have a disability. Devos’s actions will undoubtedly negatively impact these students. This is a grave injustice simply because disabled individuals are that much more vulnerable to violent acts including sexual abuse.  

Studies show those with disabilities are disproportionately likely to be sexually assaulted during their formative years while in school.  It can be argued Devos’s withdrawal from the Title IX guidelines established in the Obama era constitutes an attack on sexual assault victims.  In particular, the alterations to Title IX are a veiled attack on those plagued by one or several disabilities.

Legal Assistance With Title IX Violations is a Phone Call Away 

If you are disabled and feel as though you have been victimized by a Title IX violation, do not suffer in silence.  Legal help is available. Reach out to our law firm today to schedule a consultation where we will review the details of your particular case.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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