Civil Rights & Discrimination

We stand up for students’ rights and the protection of students in school

School-age children have various constitutional and civil rights that apply in schools. There are also an array of additional federal, state and local laws that protect students’ civil rights by prohibiting schools from discriminating against them on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity) and disability.

Discrimination means being denied the right to:

  • Receive the benefits of school
  • Participate in academic programs
  • Participate in sports or other extracurricular activities
  • Receive financial assistance, or
  • Be admitted to a school or program.

This means that the school cannot prevent your child from fully participating in school or a school activity because your child’s race, national origin, sex, disability or other protected category. For example, your daughter cannot be told she cannot play a certain sport because she is a girl, and your son cannot be prevented from participating in a field trip because he has a disability.

Federal Laws Prohibiting Discrimination

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Examples of types of discrimination that are covered by Title VII include racial harassment, school segregation, and denial of language services to English learners.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit schools from discriminating against students with disabilities. Examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Section 504 and the ADA include inequitable access to educational programs and facilities, denial of a free appropriate public education for elementary and secondary school students, and refusal to implement or inappropriate implementation of academic adjustments in higher education.
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) requires equal treatment of male and female students in educational programs and activities receiving federal funding. Examples of types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include sexual harassment; the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics; discrimination in a school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses and programs; and discrimination based on pregnancy
  • The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination by public schools and many other types of schools against students with disabilities by requiring that schools provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities and provide these ancillary aids and services that are needed for program access.

At Timoney Knox, we are committed to protecting students’ rights, including their right to be free from discrimination at school, and to ensuring that students receive equal treatment and equal access to quality education.

Our Services

We regularly represent and aggressively advocate on behalf of students who have been the victims of discrimination and/or harassment in schools on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Our attorneys can handle a wide range of civil rights disputes, including those involving student free speech and other student First Amendment rights, Title IX violations, sex discrimination in school, discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, sexual harassment in school, bullying, religious discrimination in school, racial discrimination in school, disability accommodations in school and matters arising under the ADA and Section 504.

If you suspect your child has been treated differently, discriminated against, harassed or denied services in violation of his or her civil rights, it is important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and avoid any legal limitations for filing a claim.

Our attorneys can handle a wide range of civil rights disputes, including those involving student free speech and other student First Amendment rights

You disagree with the results of your school’s evaluation of your child. What now?

Request an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense

A parent of a special needs child asks what she can do when the school has determined her son isn’t eligible for special education. A lot, in many cases. In this article, we look at specific steps parents can take in response to their child’s special education evaluation.

More at Students' Rights blog

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Fort Washington, PA 19034