US Department of Education NIDRR Technical Assistance Program

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Chapter 1.0000 COVERAGE

Italicized text was added to the original Title II Technical Assistance Manual through supplements issued in 1993 and 1994.

II-1.2000 Public entity.

A public entity covered by title II is defined as --

  1. Any State or local government;
  2. Any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or local government; or
  3. Certain commuter authorities as well as AMTRAK.

As defined, the term "public entity" does not include the Federal Government. Title II, therefore, does not apply to the Federal Government, which is covered by sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Title II is intended to apply to all programs, activities, and services provided or operated by State and local governments. Currently, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act only applies to programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Because many State and local government operations, such as courts, licensing, and legislative facilities and proceedings do not receive Federal funds, they are beyond the reach of section 504.

In some cases it is difficult to determine whether a particular entity that is providing a public service, such as a library, museum, or volunteer fire department, is in fact a public entity. Where an entity appears to have both public and private features, it is necessary to examine the relationship between the entity and the governmental unit to determine whether the entity is public or private. Factors to be considered in this determination include --

  1. Whether the entity is operated with public funds;
  2. Whether the entity's employees are considered government employees;
  3. Whether the entity receives significant assistance from the government by provision of property or equipment; and
  4. Whether the entity is governed by an independent board selected by members of a private organization or a board elected by the voters or appointed by elected officials.