About a hundred short stature (dwarf) students each year take the behind-the-wheel portion of driver's ed using pedal extenders!
Some schools are not aware of pedal extenders. They may try to teach students to drive using hand controls, not realizing that most dwarf fingers are too short to grasp the handles properly! This is against the spirit of reasonable accommodation outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Set an appointment for an IEP meeting with the school office; having the principal, guidance counselor, driver education teacher and yourself and have a written letter ready; asking for reasonable accommodations and equal access and stating the regulation below.
By federal law, the school must purchase pedal extenders for that student so he/she can take the driving portion of the class to be in compliance with the law. Keep in mind that the student will be using his/her own pedal extenders at home for practice and for real life situations.
The Regulation: Its interpretation of regulations and policy.
Under Section 504 (CFR Section 104.37) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if the course is offered by the public high school, the school district is obligated to get the equipment the student needs for the course, if the student has a disability requiring such, like a student with dwarfism or a student using a wheelchair, who may need extensions, hand-controls, etc.
They should try to provide adaptations to the regular driver's education course instead of paying for the student to attend a special needs drivers ed course, unless that's what the student actually needs (as opposed to what is easier for the school.) The student can only be charged the same fees every other student there is charged is charged for driver's education.
Of course if the district buys the equipment or rents it, it doesn't belong to the student at the end of the course. If the family chooses to buy and therefore own and keep the equipment that's different.
If the driver's education course occurs at the high school, but is run by a private firm, which distributes fliers through the school, etc., the private driving school is obligated under Title III of the ADA to make reasonable modifications.
If the firm refuses to do so, then the school district is violating Section 504 and Title II if it continues to allow the firm to operate a course at the school, because the school district is not allowed to support or do business with an organization that is violating ADA.
Section 504 and Title II in schools and colleges are enforced by the US Dept of Education, Office for Civil Rights. The regional office which handles Ohio is in Cleveland, 216-522-4970.
http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR is the general Office for Civil Rights site.
Charles M. Secor
Easy Rider Pedal Extenders®
1305 Aristo St, Glendale, CA 91201
Toll Free: 888.372.0153 (press # key)