Shaw University to change discriminatory policies for disabled students

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RALEIGH, July 14, 2015 – Shaw University will revise its discriminatory policies and procedures for students with disabilities following a complaint filed by Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services project with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of a client with cerebral palsy.

Legal Aid of North Carolina filed the complaint with OCR on behalf of its client, Almari Moore, in December. Moore was admitted to Shaw University last spring, but the university rescinded its admission offer soon after, when officials became aware of the severity of his disability.

In a June 3 resolution letter, OCR determined that Shaw University had discriminated against Moore in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that are federally funded.

OCR’s investigation found that, among other violations, Shaw University failed to engage in an interactive process to determine Moore’s needs, and that the university’s process for screening applicants with disabilities results in students who self-identify as having a disability facing a higher standard for admission.

OCR stated in the letter that “In the course of the investigation, OCR further determined that the university’s admission practices more generally, as they pertain to all students with disabilities, run contrary to the requirements of Section 504.”

Shaw University must now follow a resolution agreement with OCR which requires several revisions to the university’s policies and procedures. Among other changes, the university will address how the admissions process evaluates students with disabilities, ensure that the proper staff and administration are trained in the requirements of Section 504, and identify and review previous applicants and current students who may have been affected by the university’s discriminatory policies.

As part of OCR’s resolution agreement, Moore and his family will be reimbursed by Shaw University for expenses they incurred in preparation for attending the university. The university will also be sending Moore a letter that offers him the opportunity to reenroll at any point in the future. He plans to start as a freshman at Shaw this fall.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.

Advocates for Children’s Services is a statewide project of Legal Aid of North Carolina that focuses on education justice and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

Media Contacts

Seth Ascher, Attorney, Advocates for Children’s Services, 919-630-8622

Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 919-856-2132