Eye on Education

Discrimination Complaints Against Online Colleges Rising

Wolfgang Greller / Flickr

The number of federal discrimination complaints against online colleges is rising as enrollment in those schools grows, according to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

From a recent Office for Civil Rights report:

In one case, for example, a student alleged that an online college did not properly accommodate her disabilities to allow her to access its paralegal training program. In particular, the student wanted extra time to complete assignments and tests. OCR found that the college did not have an adequate process for students with disabilities to request academic adjustments or accommodations…

The college refunded the student’s tuition and agreed to develop a new policy on academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services and to revise its grievance procedure.


A college student with a disability withdrew from an online math class because he could not use his testing accommodation, which was extra time for the online tests. the software did not allow for untimed testing, and the professor would have had to spend about 50 minutes converting each test into a format that would work for untimed situations. The college required the student with a disability to come in to the testing center during specified hours and take a test on paper, while the other students in the class could take the test online, from anywhere, at any time during a 48-hour window…

That college reimbursed the student for the cost of the course and trained its staff on providing accommodations.


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