Opinion
Recruitment & Retention Opinion

What Should Districts Know About the Americans with Disabilities Act?

By Emily Douglas-McNab — September 21, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Most Americans have heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the importance of being ADA compliant. But, what does that mean for employees and organizations, and how does the law impact school districts? Following is information about the ADA that all K-12 talent managers should know.

Brief History
In 1990, Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The purpose? To “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” The ADA covers local and state governments as well as employers with more than 15 employees. The ADA also applies to the federal government under the Rehabilitation Act. Federal lawmakers later approved the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) to help clarify the definition of a disability.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal body designated to enforce the ADAAA and other employment laws with the purpose of bringing “justice and equal opportunity to the workplace.”

What is a “disability” according to the ADAAA?
The EEOC website offers a wealth of resources designed specifically to help organizations better understand the law. According to the EEOC:

The ADAAA and the final regulations define a disability using a three-pronged approach:
• A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to in the regulations as an “actual disability”);
• A record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited a major life activity (“record of”); or
• When a covered entity takes an action prohibited by the ADA because of an actual or perceived impairment that is not both transitory and minor (“regarded as”). [Section 1630.2(g)]

What is a “reasonable accommodation”?
EEOC also cites, “Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. In general, an accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.” There are three categories of “reasonable accommodations":
1. Modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires;
2. Modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
3. Modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Where can you get more information?
As the official enforcement body for the ADAAA, I would encourage you to visit the EEOC’s website for a plethora of helpful resources about the law and what employers need to do to comply. Also, Georgetown Law keeps an extensive online achieve complete with speeches, history, testimony, letters, legal language, and more on the ADA of 1990 and the ADAAA.

I always advise school districts that I work with that all employees, from the HR department to principals to the superintendent, should always consult with their district’s legal counsel with any questions about ADA compliance.

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Many Feared an Educator Exodus From the Pandemic. It Doesn't Seem to Have Happened. Yet.
A RAND Corporation survey of district leaders finds that predictions about principals and teachers fleeing their jobs haven't panned out.
5 min read
People form two lines in front of an Exit sign
E+/Getty
Recruitment & Retention Schools Pay a High Price for Low Teacher Salaries
Teacher turnover rates are rising and more than half of teachers said a salary hike could persuade them to stay in the classroom longer.
4 min read
Conceptual image of salary.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty)
Recruitment & Retention How 'Grow-Your-Own' Programs Are Helping Recruit Teachers of Color
Learn which strategies are working to recruit and support future teachers of color.
6 min read
Diverse team builds a geometric shapes structure together
Rudzhan Nagiev/iStock /Getty Images Plus
Recruitment & Retention Understaffed School District IT Departments Are a Big Problem. Here's One Way to Solve It
An Oregon district needed bilingual support staff to help Spanish-speaking families manage virtual learning. It didn't need to look far.
4 min read
A worker passes public school buses parked at a depot in Manchester, N.H., Monday, April 27, 2020. New Hampshire public school children continue to be taught with remote learning, while buildings are closed to students through the end of the academic year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In school districts across the country, buses sat idle through much of the past year. Some districts turned to bus drivers or other support staff to fill IT jobs.
Charles Krupa/AP