The U.S. Department of Education today made available to the public final regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), aimed at promoting equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. The regulations will address a number of issues related to significant disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities based on race or ethnicity. The Department is also releasing a new Dear Colleague Letter addressing racial discrimination.
“Children with disabilities are often disproportionately and unfairly suspended and expelled from school and educated in classrooms separate from their peers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Children of color with disabilities are overrepresented within the special education population, and the contrast in how frequently they are disciplined is even starker.”
King added, “Today’s new regulations and supporting documents provide the necessary guidance and support to school districts and build upon the work from public education advocates and local leaders who believe, like we do, that we need to address racial and ethnic disparities in special education. This important step forward is about ensuring the right services get to the right students in the right way.”
In order to address those inequities, IDEA requires states to identify districts with “significant disproportionality” in special education—that is, when districts identify, place in more restrictive settings, or discipline children from any racial or ethnic group at markedly higher rates than their peers.
Children of color—particularly African-American and American Indian youth—are identified as students with disabilities at substantially higher rates than their peers. It is critical to ensure that overrepresentation is not the result of misidentification, including both over- and under-identification, which can interfere with a school’s ability to provide children with the appropriate educational services required by law. It is equally important to ensure that all children who are suspected of having a disability are evaluated and, as appropriate, receive needed special education and related services in the most appropriate setting and with the most appropriate discipline strategies employed.
Source: U.S. Department of Education