Friday, December 16, 2016

IDEA Amendments Address Discipline Disparities

USDE Addresses Disparities in Discipline of Students with Disabilities Based on Race or Ethnicity

On December 13, 2016, the United States Department of Education (USDE), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services amended regulations to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

The amendments are aimed at promoting equity in disciplinary actions involving students with disabilities.  The amendments establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and in its local educational agencies (LEAs). They clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, using the same statutory remedies required to address significant disproportionality in the identification and placement of children with disabilities.  The amendments also clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found.  They require that LEAs identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (comprehensive CEIS) and allow these services for children from age 3 through grade 12, with and without disabilities.

While it will be 2018-2019 before the requirements take effect, we are hopeful that the continued focus on disparities will create significant change in school climates and cultures.

To read the draft copy, click here.

Also issued was a Dear Colleague Letter by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which reminds schools and parents of their obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the administration of special education or related aids and services.  OCR cited their enforcement activities have confirmed that there continues to be over-identification of students of color as having disabilities, under-identification of students of color who do have disabilities, and unlawful delays in evaluating students of color for disability and their need for special education services.

If you have questions about how your child is being disciplined, please contact the Law Office of Brian K. Gruber, P.C. to schedule a consultation.  

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