Education discrimination can happen at:
- Public and private schools
- Colleges and universities
- Trade, technical, professional, and business schools
The actions of a student, teacher, administrator, or other school employee may be discriminatory.
Also, a school’s policies or the way they are applied may be discriminatory. The victim may not be one individual but a whole group that is negatively affected by a policy or procedure.
Illegal education discrimination must be based on race, color, sex, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, or disability.
Examples of illegal discrimination in education include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A teacher disciplines or grades students differently based on their race, color, sex, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, or disability.
- Students are denied opportunities, such as scholarships or extracurricular activities, because of their race, color, sex, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, or disability.
- A student cannot physically access a facility because of barriers or a lack of ramps or elevators.
- A school refuses to make reasonable accommodations for a student’s disability. For example,
- American Sign-Language interpreter
- Screen-reader or another assistive device
- Accommodations, such as extended testing periods or oral examinations
- A school denies a student the use of a guide or support animal for a disability.
- Classmates harass or bully a peer because of their race, color, sex, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, or disability.
- A teacher requests sexual favors in return for grades or repeatedly makes sexual comments to a student.
- A classmate repeatedly makes sexual comments or gestures or subjects a peer to sexually offensive images.
- Qualified students are denied admission based on their race, color, sex, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, or disability.
There are also many things that happen in schools that are unfair but may not be illegal. If it isn’t clear whether your situation is illegal discrimination, an investigation will determine the facts as the law applies.
If your situation potentially involves a violation of federal civil rights or criminal law, the PHRC will refer you to the appropriate agency.
If you feel you have been the victim of illegal education discrimination, file a complaint or report a bias incident by:
- Calling (717) 787-4410 | (717) 787-7279 TTY users only phone, or
- Visiting one of our three regional offices. (Offices are currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions, but drop-off boxes for questionnaires and other papter work are provided at the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices.)
The following form may also be used to to start an education discrimination complaint:. Please download and complete the questionnaire and email it to PHRC@pa.gov or print and return it by mail to your closest regional office.
If your complaint is disability-related, complete and submit the following form to authorize the release of information related to your disability to PHRC investigators:
If you are an employee or prospective employee of a school or college, the following forms may be used to file a complaint: