The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Secretary of Education published a proposed rule that seeks to standardize the way that states identify and address significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity occurring in state and local educational agencies.
The Law Center enthusiastically supports the full adoption of this proposed rule. We provided comments on this rule on behalf of our clients, the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference and Concerned African American Parents.
Disproportionate placement of students into special education on the basis of race and ethnicity is a long-standing and long-recognized problem in American public education. Studies have found that schools with predominately white students and teachers have placed disproportionately high numbers of their minority students into special education.
Overrepresentation in special education is particularly troubling given that misplacement into special education has significant emotional and educational effects on affected students, including social isolation and diminished self-esteem.
The proposed regulations would represent a significant improvement, by adding needed specificity within the statutory framework for making determinations of significant disproportionality and for remedying the problem once it is identified
In particular, the proposed regulations strike a needed balance between allowing states and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) some discretion in how they calculate disproportionality and requiring states and LEAs to exercise that discretion within reasonable, well-delineated bounds.
We and our clients strongly support the proposed rule and urge its adoption in full.