Scott Condemns Action to Seek Delay of Rule Addressing Inequities in Special Education

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Education (Department) intends to seek a comment period for a delay of the Equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) rule, which addresses disproportionate identification, placement, and disciplinary treatment of students of color in special education.

“I am deeply disappointed by the Department’s efforts to propose a delay of the rule that addresses widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. This is particularly upsetting as we recently celebrated the 42nd anniversary of IDEA, which recognized the rights of students with disabilities to be educated in public schools in the least restrictive environment.

“Despite clear evidence of pervasive and significant disproportionality, as documented by a 2013 GAO report, less than three percent of school districts nationwide are working to eliminate, reduce, and prevent these disparities. Failure to address these disparities continues to jeopardize the educational opportunity for millions of children of color.

“When Congress reauthorized the IDEA in 2004, my colleagues and I sought to correct this egregious wrong by requiring states, for the first time, to identify districts with gross disparities and direct federal resources to address these inequities. We knew then, just as we know now, that African American students are over-identified for special education services, placed in more restrictive settings, and disciplined at higher rates. Combatting this persistent problem is crucial to dismantling the ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’ and helping students of color with disabilities achieve their full potential. Clearly, leaving the disproportionality provision unregulated has left states and school districts without the tools necessary to implement the law’s requirements.

“Any effort to delay this rule, or remove it entirely, works against the fundamental goals of IDEA. Too many states and districts have failed to uphold their responsibility to address the deeply embedded inequities in special education in the identification, placement, and discipline of students of color. As I continue oversight on this issue at the federal level, I urge states to continue their efforts to address this national crisis. I also remain committed to holding the Department accountable for the civil rights of all students by ensuring critical protections for students with disabilities remain in place.”


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