The Trump administration is giving up on its long-running effort to delay an Obama-era rule designed to keep certain students from being wrongly placed in special education.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion late last week to dismiss its appeal of a federal lawsuit over the “Equity in IDEA” regulations.

The administration had been fighting a March ruling from U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington, D.C. ordering what’s known as the “significant disproportionality” rule to take effect immediately. Chutkan found that the Department of Education acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner in delaying the rule.

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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. But, the methods used to assess this have historically varied from state to state and school districts were rarely called out.

With the 2016 Equity in IDEA regulation, the Obama administration sought to establish a national standard.

Initially, the rule was set to take effect in July 2018, but under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Education Department decided to hold off for two years. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA, sued leading to Chutkan’s ruling earlier this year.

Even after Chutkan’s decision came down, disability advocates accused the administration of dragging its feet on implementing the rule. Ultimately, however, the Education Department told states in May that they needed to follow through with the requirements of the significant disproportionality rule.

“Finally, we hope this signifies that DeVos and her department are ready to step up action to assure states implement the Equity in IDEA regulations,” said Denise Marshall, executive director of COPAA. “Clear rules to address significant racial disproportionately will help children receive the early intervening services and proper identification and supports they deserve.”

Representatives for the Education Department did not respond to a request for comment on the move to dismiss the appeal.

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