Friday, January 18, 2013

4th Circuit: Public Schools Not Required To Provide Rehabilitation Act Services To Students In Private Religious Schools

In D.L. v. Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, (4th Cir., Jan. 16, 2013), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794) does not require the Baltimore city school board to provide educational services to students enrolled in private religious schools.  Here the parents of a student in a Jewish school sought special services for their 8th grader who suffered from ADHD and anxiety.  The court also concluded that requiring a student to enroll in public school in order to access Section 504 services does not unconstitutionally infringe free exercise rights or parents' right to choose a private religious school for their child. It said:
The right to a religious education does not extend to a right to demand that public schools accommodate Appellants’ educational preferences.... The school board need not serve up its publicly funded services like a buffet from which Appellants can pick and choose.

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