I don't know what this litigation will mean in the broader universe of independent and private schools that are non-profit. As I understand it, private and independet schools have the right to be selective in their admissions; to set minimum admissions standards. This ruling may apply to preschools only.
Large Network of Private Schools Pays $215,000 to Settle Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination Against Children with Disabilities.
The Justice Department today announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Nobel Learning Communities, Inc. (NLC), a private, for-profit entity that operates a nationwide network of more than 180 preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools. These entities operate in the District of Columbia and in 15 states (Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington) under a variety of names, including Chesterbrook Academy, Merryhill School and Evergreen Academy, among others.
In its lawsuit, filed in April 2009 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Justice Department alleged that NLC violated Title III of the ADA by excluding from its programs children with disabilities, including some children with autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and global developmental delays. NLC denies the allegations.
“It is illegal under the ADA to discriminate against children with disabilities. Just like public schools, private schools must make reasonable modifications of policies to permit children with disabilities to participate fully in the programs they offer,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. “This agreement ensures that children will not be denied quality preschool and other educational opportunities based upon their disabilities.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Zane David Memeger, noted, “no child should be discriminated against on the basis of disability. All children should have an equal opportunity to attend any school for which they qualify, and schools must make reasonable modifications to policies, practices or procedures in accordance with the law.”