OCR Clarifies Duties of LEAs Regarding Students with Disabilities Participating in Extracurricular Athletics (K-12)

As described in Legal Update Memo 2-2013, the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released a “Dear Colleague Letter” (“DCL”) on January 25, 2013, that appeared to significantly expand OCR’s expectations for Local Educational Agencies (“LEAs”) to ensure that students with disabilities have opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletics equal to those of other students pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”). Among other issues, the DCL suggested that LEAs would have to create new athletic opportunities specifically for students with disabilities if the LEAs’ existing athletic opportunities precluded, even with reasonable modifications or aids and services, students with disabilities from participating.