WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday announced it will seek to delay the implementation of its own regulations combatting racial disproportionality of school discipline among special education students. These “significant disproportionality” regulations were developed to create a consistent and effective process for assessing whether minority students are overrepresented in special education, and if such students are disciplined more frequently because of their disabilities. Delaying these regulations will allow states to continue setting the bar so high that they can avoid any legal obligation to investigate and address legitimate and well-documented racial disparities in special education within their schools.
“We condemn the Department of Education’s misguided decision to delay implementation of important regulations that impact some of our most vulnerable students — students with disabilities who are often subject to harsh and disproportionate discipline,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This delay will allow schools to continue suspending and expelling students of color with disabilities at disproportionate rates, unfairly keeping them out of the classroom and exacerbating the school-to-prison pipeline. Such action is unacceptable and continues to demonstrate Secretary DeVos’s hostility towards protecting the civil rights of our nation’s children.”
Last month, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law submitted public comments to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding the disproportionate discipline of students of color with disabilities and the Department’s regulations. Those comments are available here.