Ed Department Says States Must Comply With Special Education Rule
The U.S. Department of Education is telling states to follow a new special education regulation just weeks after saying it will continue fighting the rule in court.
In a posting on its website this week, the Education Department said that states should use a method outlined in an Obama-era regulation to measure what’s known as significant disproportionality.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states are required to identify school districts with high rates of students from particular racial or ethnic groups who have disabilities, are placed in restrictive settings or are subject to discipline. However, states have historically used different methods to assess this and few districts were ever flagged.
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The Obama administration finalized a rule known as “Equity in IDEA” in 2016 in an effort to create a national standard. The regulation was supposed to take effect in July 2018, but under President Donald Trump the Education Department moved to delay the rule’s implementation by two years.
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA, sued and a federal judge determined in March that the delay was unwarranted and the rule should be implemented immediately.
Now, however, Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill said that while the agency has filed a notice of appeal, they are following the court’s order to implement the regulation.
“The department expects states to calculate significant disproportionality for the 2018–2019 school year using the 2016 rule’s standard methodology, or to recalculate using the 2016 rule’s standard methodology if a different methodology has already been used for this school year,” reads the Education Department posting.
In addition, in a recent Federal Register notice the agency sought information about how states have been identifying significant disproportionality.
Officials at COPAA said they are pleased to see the Education Department’s directive.
“Given what’s at stake, the department should do all they can to assist states to come into compliance with the law,” the organization said in a statement.