The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights have jointly issued guidance to support students with mental health disabilities and their schools during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidance points out the importance of supporting students with mental health disabilities who may be at risk of self-harm, for example students with a condition of anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder. These students with mental health disabilities are protected by federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The guidance provides examples of the kinds of incidents that either department can investigate to determine whether a violation of those laws has occurred. It also gives schools and postsecondary institutions a list of action steps to create an environment supportive of students and provides educational and crisis resources for students, families, and educators. To find out more about the guidance or the ADA, visit ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD), or contact the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. at (670) 235-7272/3 or by fax at (670) 235-7275.
Legal counsel, NMPASI