Common Cases of School Discrimination

29 March 2017

In Ohio, school discrimination comes in many forms and from many sources. Sadly, victims can range from preschoolers to vocational studies trainees and Ph.D. candidates.

Classmates can bully a fellow student. Teachers may treat certain students unfairly. Administrators might use criteria other than merit and willingness to exclude individuals from programs.

The two things any specific instance of school discrimination at an institution that receives federal funds have in common with every other are:

  • When the discrimination is based on the victim’s race, gender, age, religion, English proficiency, or disability, a federal law prohibits it.
  • Victims can partner with a school discrimination attorney in Columbus, Ohio, to file legal complaints and lawsuits to end the harmful behavior, request corrective action, and ask for financial compensation and monetary damages.

Laws That Cover School Discrimination

Multiple federal laws prohibits students from being denied equal access to education.

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
  • The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)

Very briefly, these three pieces of legislation outlaw race, age, gender, national origin, and religious discrimination; require gender equity in educational and school-based athletic opportunities; and require free education for children with physical or mental disabilities. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment in school and vocational training settings.

Other laws open federal educational grant programs to people of any age, ensure that foreign language speakers have access to English lessons and instruction in their native language, and compel public schools and colleges to make reasonable accommodations for students’ religious practices.

Examples of School Discrimination

School discrimination cases fall into two broad categories. Either a child or adult learner is denied adequate resources and opportunities, or the person is subjected to a hostile environment.

Making it difficult or impossible for a person to learn can involve limiting access to classes, providing substandard instructional materials, maintaining unsafe or structurally deficient facilities, and denying scholarships, grants or enrollment. The most-egregious example of this kind of school discrimination was racial segregation. Blatantly separating students by race has pretty much disappeared, but race-based mistreatment still occurs, as does discrimination grounded in misconceptions and stereotypes about age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sex.

Grounds for a school discrimination complaint and lawsuit exist when a school or organization covered by federal educational laws does too little to address possible problems. For instance, if a black family suspects that their child is receiving harsher discipline than white students, legal action may be warranted. Similarly, a recent immigrant who enrolls in a federally sponsored job-training program could take legal action if no translation services or native-language textbooks are made available.

A hostile environment exists when comments or physical treatment become so offensive, threatening, or harmful that a student or trainee cannot learn or feels forced to drop out. Sexual assaults, hitting, racist and sexist insults, and hateful displays can constitute evidence of a hostile environment in an educational setting. To find for the plaintiff in such a case, though, a court will want to see that the discriminatory and injurious behavior was severe, persistent or pervasive. Consulting with an Ohio education discrimination attorney will help a victim or family ascertain how to gather and organize evidence of illegal activities.

Where to Find Help

The Calig Law Firm employs dedicated school discrimination attorneys at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. If you, a family member, or a classmate experiences unfair and unjust treatment, you can share your story with us by calling 614-252-2300 or reaching out to us online. We work to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn in a safe and welcoming environment.


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