Students with disabilities have always been a marginalized group. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this group was even more vulnerable to discrimination because many students simply could not receive services required to ensure equal opportunity in education. While Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act in order to ensure students with disabilities are fairly treated in the educational system, remote learning has created complications and more complex issues. Making this issue even more complex, many parents are demanding the end of remote learning while others are demanding it as a reasonable modification. The ADA, Section 504, and IDEA always envisioned students learning in a brick and mortar building, and the goal has always been inclusion and a least restrictive environment in order to prevent students with disabilities from being locked away and forgotten; however, remote learning has changed the landscape of education, and, as a result, some of these goals of inclusion are thwarted by a technology that promotes isolation. Still, the main purposes of these laws are to ensure equal opportunity, promote student choice, and provide dignity for all students, regardless of status. Districts must reconcile new technologies with old statutes to promote student learning and avoid lawsuits until Congress provides more specific instruction. This article examines current case law and discusses policies that districts must address to ensure equal opportunity.
Teramie Hill, Equal Opportunity in Remote Learning, 24 Marq. Ben & Soc. Welfare L. Rev. 121 (2022).