Today the U.S. Department of Education took a critical step toward addressing widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities, proposing a new rule to improve equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
COPAA congratulates the US Department of Education for it’s much needed and balanced proposal to tackle the disproportionate identification, segregation, and discipline of children of color under the special education system. Special education should provide added services to students with disabilities to close the gap between their achievement and those of their typical peers. All too often, however, special education designation has been used to reduce expectations, place in separate classrooms, and suspend and expel freely students from minority groups, and particularly children of color. The proposed regulations would go a long way to identifying and remedying this misuse of the system and ensure equity for students with disabilities and students of color.
COPAA applauds the establishment of a standard methodology to determine if disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring. The focus on identification, placement and the incidence, duration and type of disciplinary actions is a welcome and necessary step. We are also encouraged by the proposed expansion of the scope of and strengthening of the remedies required under IDEA.
It is critical that states address the disproportionality issue at long last, honoring the stated intention of these proposed regulations - not to limit eligibility or services for children with disabilities who need them; rather, to ensure that children are not mislabeled and that they receive appropriate services and supports.
COPAA looks forward to submitting full comments on all areas of the proposed regulation.