On July 19,2022, the Department of Education for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid discriminatory use of student discipline.
These newly released resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students through pandemic recovery.
“ All students deserve to have their rights protected, and schools deserve greater clarity on how they can avoid the discriminatory use of discipline”, said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “ Too often, students with disabilities face harsh and exclusionary disciplinary action at school. The guidance we’re releasing today will help ensure that students with disabilities are treated fairly and have access to supports and services to meet their needs-including their disability- based behavior. We also expect that districts utilize the American Rescue Plan dollars to build capacity, provide professional learning opportunities for educators and school leaders and hire additional staff. These resources will also help schools live up to their legal obligations, support an equitable recovery for all our students, and make sure that students with disabilities get the behavioral support and special education services they need to thrive. “
The new releases reflect the concern, particularly in light of the prevalence of student mental health issues associated with the pandemic, that some students with disabilities are not receiving the supports and services necessary to address their educational needs, including their disability- based behavior.
The new resources include:
- Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/504/discipline-guidance.pdf) and accompanying Fact Sheet.
- Questions and Answers Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA’s) Discipline Provisions (sites.ed.gov/idea/files/ga-addressing-the- needs- of-children-with-disabilities-and-idea-discipline-provisions.pdf).
- Positive, Proactive, Approaches to Supporting the Needs of Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Stakeholders (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/guide-positive-proactive-approaches-to-supporting-children-with-disabilities.pdf. And,
- A letter(https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guide/secletter/220719.html)