Ed Department To Update Disability Regulations
Federal education officials say they plan to revise regulations for one of the main laws affecting students with disabilities after leaving them largely untouched for 45 years.
The U.S. Department of Education is considering amendments to the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The civil rights law bars disability discrimination at schools and other public and private programs that receive federal money.
“While the world has undergone enormous changes since 1977, the department’s Section 504 regulations have remained, with few exceptions, unaltered,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department. “As we observe the 45th anniversary of these important regulations this month, it is time to start the process of updating them.”
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The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is soliciting feedback from the public about what types of changes are warranted. In addition, the agency said it intends to hold listening sessions in the coming months.
It is unclear what sort of updates the Education Department is considering, but officials said they intend to “strengthen and protect the rights of students with disabilities.” In particular, the agency indicated that it wants input from people with disabilities.
Section 504 requires that schools provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education and children can receive various accommodations under the law. Many students with disabilities are eligible for services under both Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But, as of the 2017-2018 school year, over 1.38 million public school students with disabilities were served solely under Section 504, according to federal civil rights data.
The Education Department has not announced a timetable for updating the regulations. Information about submitting comments can be found on the department’s website.