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ED Releases Final Regulations Under Part B of IDEA

On December 12, the Department of Education released the final regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These regulations are aimed at promoting equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities.  The regulations will address a number of issues related to significant disproportionality in the identification, placement and discipline of students with disabilities based on race ethnicity.  The Department is also releasing a new Dear Colleague Letter addressing racial discrimination.  IDEA requires states to identify districts with “significant disproportionality” in special education – when districts identify, place in more restrictive settings, or discipline children from any racial or ethnic group at markedly higher rates than their peers.  This rule sets a common standard for identifying significant disproportionality in representation of students within special education, segregated school settings, and in receipt of disciplinary actions and ensures that school districts where disproportionality is found carefully review their policies and practices to determine root causes and whether changes are needed.  Also, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new policy document to support educators and administrators as they work to identify students’ need for special education.  The new policy document was created to remind states, school districts and public schools of their legal obligation to prevent discrimination on the basis of race in special education.  OCR’s enforcement experience suggest both over-identification and under-identification based on race are occurring in schools.  For more information: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-equity-idea and http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201612-racedisc-special-education.pdf.

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