The United States Department of Education announced a new final regulation under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).   The final regulations establish one standard States must use in determining (and seeking to eradicate) significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity within its districts. The goal of the Department of Education in creating these new standards is to obtain consistent and accurate data across each of the states.

One of the highlights of the new regulations the Department of Education’s focus on disparities in the discipline of students with disabilities on the basis of race or ethnicity. Specifically, the regulations clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in three areas:

  • Incidence of discipline;
  • Duration;
  • and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions.

Accordingly, the final regulations clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found.

As part of requiring uniform reporting requirements, districts will be required to identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive, coordinated early intervening services. In addition, new flexibilities will further help districts identified with large disparities in addressing the underlying causes of the disparity in order to root out the causes of disproportionality.

Districts should begin to prepare for these changes in practice by examining their own policies as well as speaking with an attorney about modifying existing policies as well as training staff in the reporting requirements.