School Law Alerts

School Law Alert: U.S. Department of Education releases guidance to help schools avoid discriminatory discipline of students with disabilities

Posted by Daniel R. Shisler | Jul 25, 2022 | 0 Comments

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:

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.

About the Author

Daniel R. Shisler

Daniel Shisler's practice is devoted to advising boards of education on matters including board policy formation and compliance, general labor and employment/ personnel issues, employment discrimination, workers compensation, unemployment compensation, student/pupil personnel legal issues, residency issues, board policy, and ethics/conflict of interest issues. Daniel has experience representing boards of education in litigation in both state and federal courts regarding employment discrimination, employee discipline, termination and nonrenewal, statutory immunity issues, and student disciplinary appeals.


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