New Federal Initiatives for Students with Disabilities

News & Events

New Federal Initiatives for Students with Disabilities

Alert Date: January 21, 2019

By: William J. Zee
Related Practice Areas: Education, Higher Education and K-12

Potentially inappropriate use of restraints and seclusion on students with disabilities are in the cross hairs of some new initiatives the U.S. Department of Education announced January 17.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services are working together to provide schools and districts technical assistance and support in creating and implementing effective and appropriate policies in compliance with federal regulations.

The department’s initiatives includes three components – compliance reviews, Civil Rights Data Collection and support for recipients:

Compliance reviews: Regional offices will conduct compliance reviews on the use of restraint and seclusion for children with disabilities, then work with schools to correct noncompliance. The compliance reviews will focus on the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion, and the effect of such practices on the school’s obligation to provide a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities.

Civil Rights Data Collection: The Office for Civil Rights will conduct data quality reviews and work directly with schools to review and improve restraint and seclusion data submitted. It also will provide technical assistance to schools on data quality to ensure they are collecting and reporting accurate data.

Support for recipients: The collaborating offices will provide joint technical assistance in recipients’ understanding how Section 504, Title II, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act informs the development and implementation of policies concerning the use of restraint and seclusion. They also will conduct webinars related to the use of appropriate interventions and supports for all students. The special education office will support schools to ensure they have access to technical assistance and available resources as they establish or enhance environments where the implementation of interventions and supports reduces reliance on less effective and dangerous practices. The office will also consider how current investments may be used to provide support and training to schools, districts and states.

“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability.”

If you have any questions on these initiatives and how it affects your school, please reach out to me or any member of the Barley Snyder Education Practice Group.