Proposed Department of Education Rule Addresses Unfair Treatment of Students with Disabilities

For Immediate Release         
February 24, 2016                    

Contact: David Card
202.408.9514 x122  
press@ndrn.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education published a proposed rule that is intended to clarify how racial disproportionality in special education is measured. The proposed rule is a positive step toward resolving the serious and complex problems at the state and local level that cause great harm to students with disabilities.  

The need for clarification is real and immediate -- current measures identify an unrealistically low number of school districts as needing to improve their practices in order to ensure that the needs of all students are being met.

The proposed regulations “would establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring…” In addition, the proposed rule provides funding flexibility to assist districts in addressing the causes of disproportionality, including those involving the youngest students.  

“As the nation’s largest provider of legal representation to students with disabilities, the nationwide network of Protection and Advocacy agencies believe that the problems addressed by this proposed rule is highly significant and worthy of federal attention,” said NDRN Executive Director, Curt Decker. “We appreciate the effort that has gone into the development of the proposed rule.”

NDRN intends to carefully review the details of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), and to work in coalition with other groups as we prepare our comments.

The NPRM may be accessed here: www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/files/nprm-significant-disproportionality--unofficial-copy.pdf

The U.S. Department of Education’s press release about the NPRM can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-takes-action-deliver-equity-students-disabilities

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.