The U.S. Department of Education is reportedly considering delaying or wiping out a rule designed to ensure that children from certain backgrounds aren’t unnecessarily placed in special education.

The agency is debating the future of a rule finalized late last year by the Obama administration in an effort to prevent overrepresentation of minorities in special education, according to Politico.

The Washington news outlet says it has obtained an unpublished draft of a Federal Register notice from the Education Department that would ask for comment on delaying the rule for two years and ultimately potentially changing, replacing or doing away with it altogether.

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Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said that she could not verify the document that Politico has, but acknowledged that discussions are underway about the rule.

“What I can tell you, is through the regulatory review process, we’ve heard from states, (school districts) and others on a wide range of issues, including the significant disproportionality rule. Because of the concerns raised, the department is looking closely at this rule,” Hill told Disability Scoop.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states are required to identify school districts with “significant disproportionality,” or high rates of students from particular racial or ethnic groups that are placed in restrictive settings or are subject to discipline.

But the Obama administration said that with various states using different measures to assess representation in special education, school districts have rarely been flagged. The rule — set to take effect in July 2018 — was designed to address this by creating a uniform standard across the country.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is now considering delaying implementation until 2020, according to Politico. Even in that scenario, however, states that wish to go forward with the rule next year would reportedly have the option to do so and data from states that proceed would be used to assess how well the rule works.

News that the rule could be delayed is drawing a strong rebuke from Democratic lawmakers.

“It seems Betsy DeVos is on a mission to decimate basic protections for students at all levels,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wrote on Twitter.

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