Disability Based Discrimination in Private Schools or Daycare Centers

Students attending private schools, including preschools, that do not receive any public funds, are not required by law to provide services under an IEP or 504 plan.  However, under Title III of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal for private schools and daycare centers (as places of public accommodation) to discriminate based on disability.  42 U. S. C. § 12182 (a).

Specifically, the statute provides that “It shall be discriminatory to subject an individual . . . on the basis of a disability . . . to a denial of the opportunity of the individual or class to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of an entity.” 42 U. S. C. § 12182 (b)( 1)(A)( i). The statute provides that discrimination includes “a failure to make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.” 42 U. S. C. § 12182 (b)(2)(A)(ii).

To be successful in this kind of case you must show

  • The school or daycare center is a place of public accommodation;
  • The individual discriminated against has a disability;
  • That the individual could succeed at the school or daycare with reasonable modifications (that do no fundamentally alter the program, and/ or cause an undue burden, and the individual would not present a direct threat of physical harm to the other children in the program); and
  • That school or daycare center failed to make such modifications

Burriola v. Greater Toledo YMCA (W.D. OH 2001)