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Legal Obligations to Serve English Learners with Disabilities


Joanne Karger


Impact (University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration)




This article aims to make educators aware of their legal obligations to teach English learners with disabilities and to work collaboratively with families in implementing these obligations. English learners in public schools who are also identified as having disabilities are guaranteed a number of rights by federal law. Two types of laws address the education of ELs with disabilities – those that pertain to language learning, and those that pertain to the provision of special education services. The first part of this article discusses obligations with respect to all ELs, including ELs with disabilities, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. That is followed by a discussion of specific obligations pertaining to ELs with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

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Cite As

Karger, J. (2013). The legal obligations of education systems to serve English learners with disabilities. Impact: Feature Issue on Educating K-12 English Language Learners with Disabilities 26(1), 6-7.

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