Kentucky school boards and superintendents have a legal obligation to ensure students with disabilities are able to access public education as safely as their peers. Ignoring simple and effective precautions during a deadly pandemic – such as school mask requirements – will force some students to choose between their health and their education.
Alongside the Children's Law Center, we have written to Kentucky school boards and superintendents to remind them of their obligations under federal law and the Kentucky Constitution. In the absence of statewide masking requirements, several districts have implemented local requirements. However, some are forgoing their responsibilities and endangering the lives of Kentucky children. (Read our letter in the PDF at the bottom of this page.)
Kentucky lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1 to end statewide school mask requirements implemented by the Kentucky Board of Education. SB 1 was passed during a special legislative session. We wrote to the General Assembly to remind them of their obligation to make reasonable accommodations so students with disabilities can access the same education as their peers, but lawmakers pressed on. Governor Beshear vetoed SB 1 in an attempt to protect all students, but lawmakers quickly voted to override his veto.
Two federal laws – the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act – prohibit schools from excluding students with disabilities, denying them equal access to education, or segregating students with disabilities unnecessarily. Schools are also obligated to provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from their public education. If school districts use Senate Bill 1 to follow the General Assembly's lead and ignore their responsibilities, students with disabilities will be placed in harm's way.
Thank you to Governor Beshear and the 30 lawmakers who voted to protect all of Kentucky's students.