DOE Appeals Ruling on Racial Bias in Special Education
The Department of Education has appealed a U.S. District Court ruling that says it illegally delayed implementation of the 2016 Equity in IDEA Regulations — a set of rules governing how school districts in every state identify minority students for special education.
May 9, 2019
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in March that the 2016 Equity in Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) regulations must immediately go into effect, putting an end to the “illegal delay” by the Department of Education (DOE). The regulations protect against racial discrimination in special education by establishing a standard method for identifying and monitoring inequitable treatment of minority students.
Under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the DOE chose to put off implementation of the 2016 Equity in IDEA rule by two years for “further study.” Last July, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) filed a lawsuit against the DOE, alleging that the delay was an attempt to avoid its responsibility under the IDEA to provide children with disabilities the educational services they need without regard to their race. On March 7, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the DOE delay violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies propose and implement regulations.
COPPA responded to the verdict in a press release, saying “COPAA, with the support of parents whose children who have been harmed by unlawful suspensions, assignments to segregated and restrictive classrooms and improper decisions of both under and over identification for special education, took legal steps to fight the Department. The court has sided with the children whom the Department had deemed unimportant through its actions to delay implementation of the Equity in IDEA regulations.”1
This week, the DOE filed a notice of appeal to the district court ruling, however COPAA quickly issued a statement saying that “states are still required to carry out the Equity in IDEA regulations regardless of the legal proceedings.”2
1 The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. Court Reinstates Protections Against Racial Discrimination in Special Education – U.S. Department of Education Ordered to Implement 2018 Regulations. (Mar. 2019). file:///C:/Users/Lilly/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/J55VDW2S/COPAA%20Press%20release%20on%20significant%20%20disproportionality%20ruling.pdf
2 Denise Marshall. States Still Required to Implement Equity in IDEA Regulations. COPAA. (May 2019) https://www.copaa.org/news/450358/States-Still-Required-to-Implement-Equity-in-IDEA-Regulations-.htm