On July 19, the Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, issued a departmental policy letter to the nation's educators, school leaders, parents, and students addressing the importance of supporting the needs of students with all forms of disabilities. In conjunction, the U.S. Department of Education's (“USDOE”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (“OSERS”) released new resources aimed at assisting schools in avoiding the discriminatory use of discipline against students with disabilities.
Secretary Cardona's letter highlights that a primary mission of the Biden administration with respect to education is to ensure that schools and students are supported; acknowledging the traumatic effects the pandemic has had on the mental health of many young people. With that in mind, the letter emphasizes the importance of supporting the needs of students with disabilities in particular.
To further support schools in this mission, OCR and OSERS have released new guidance documents that are intended to be used as resources for schools to assist students in addressing disability-based behaviors that may otherwise interfere with their or other students' learning that could lead to discipline or impact safety. The guidance issued by the DOE offices addresses student discipline issues under both Section 504 and the IDEA.
The battery of newly-published guidance includes the following resources:
- Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and accompanying fact sheet (OCR);
- Questions and Answers: Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities and IDEA's Discipline Provisions (OSERS); and
- Positive, Proactive Approaches to Supporting Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Stakeholders (OSERS)
PKM attorneys monitor important developments impacting school districts' compliance with federal law, and release School Law Alerts when new policies are announced or additional guidance is released.
Information contained in this School Law Alert is provided for the general education and knowledge of its readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and addressing a legal problem/issue, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly evolving. The information in this School Law Alert is not intended to create, and reading it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, you should obtain the services of competent legal counsel.