The Hartford Courant
New civil rights group targets discrimination in schools, camps and day care centers
Faced with an increasing number of complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and segregation in schools, U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly has created a partnership to address civil rights infractions in educational settings.
Daly said her office regularly receives complaints from parents and caregivers alleging that their children were discriminated against by schools, after-school programs and summer camps because of a child’s disability, gender, gender identity or limited ability to speak English.
Civil rights violations in educational and camp settings undermine the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens – our children,” Daly said. “Through aggressive outreach and enforcement initiatives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our working group partners strive to eliminate these violations to improve the health and welfare of all children and young adults.”
Daly said that such violations are “absolutely a priority with us.” She said it’s hard to know the “full gravity” of the situation because such cases are “so underreported.”
Over the past several months, Daly’s office has settled cases against schools, after-school programs and day-care centers for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
The settlements have resulted in “monetary settlements to parents, comprehensive training for providers, and sweeping policy changes to entire educational programs and systems,” a statement from Daly’s office said.
On Monday, Daly announced that her office had reached a settlement with Quinnipiac University to resolve allegations that the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing a student diagnosed with depression to take a medical leave without considering options that would have allowed her to remain enrolled.
As part of that settlement, the university agreed to pay the student $17,000 to compensate for her suffering and paid off the student’s $15,126 loan for the semester when she was forced to leave.
A statement from Daly’s office said that “recognizing a greater need to address and help prevent civil rights violations in educational and campus settings,” the U.S. attorney’s office has partnered with federal and state agencies to create a civil rights working group.
Among the groups participating are the U.S. Department of Education, the Connecticut Department of Education, the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, the African-American Affairs Commission, and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission.
The working group is developing a plan to address civil rights violations through education as well as through law enforcement.