October 30

US ED Rescinds Guidance on Special Education

Process and Protest: To advance educational excellence and equity, we must prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students and communities. To accomplish this goal, we need clear processes for the deliberation and development of policy, and we need to take opposition to current and proposed policies and practices – protest – into account as a healthy part of those processes. This Newsbrief gives our sense of important and timely federal educational news within this process and protest context.

In This Newsbrief:

  • US ED Rescinds Guidance on Special Education
  • What Else is Happening in Our Network

US ED Rescinds Guidance on Special Education

The Issue:

On Friday, October 20, the United States Department of Education (US ED) rescinded 72 documents that gave official guidance on issues pertaining to special education policy and related matters. A spokesperson for US ED said the rescission of these documents would have “no policy implications,” and that there would be “no impact” on services provided for students with disabilities. This assertion is being contested by civil rights advocates and by members of Congress.

The Process:

President Trump issued an executive order earlier this year directing all federal agencies to review existing regulations and guidance and to make recommendations for repeals, replacements, and modifications. A few months ago, US ED published a notice in the Federal Register that gave the public the opportunity to provide feedback about which regulations should be protected, repealed, or changed.  A US ED spokesperson said that the guidance documents on special education were rescinded to help fulfill the requirements of the  executive order, and that the documents that were pulled back were “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.”

Learn More:

Be a Part of the Process:

US ED continues to withdraw and rescind guidance documents, and there are reports that US ED is currently deciding whether to postpone or rescind a rule pertaining to special education that was finalized by the Obama administration in December 2016. The rule, which noted that African-American and American Indian students, among other students of color, are identified as students with disabilities at disproportionately higher rates than their peers, seeks to ensure that states are taking steps to identify and correct these disparities. The rule was supposed to take effect in July 2018.

  • Make Your Voice Heard: 
    • Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-2311 to speak with your Congressional member about US ED’s actions on guidance and regulations.
    • Contact the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) at US ED regarding US ED’s recent and proposed actions regarding students with disabilities. Additional background on what is at stake can be found here, and a sample comment letter can be found here.

What Else is Happening in Our Network?

  • The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) is reaching out to Congressional budget and appropriations leadership to ensure funding levels are maintained for the Full-Service Community Schools program for FY 2018. There are 21 current grantees that would lose funding if the program is not renewed. The program is vulnerable because it  it was funded in the House but not the Senate.
  • The Alliance for Excellent Education has created summary dashboards showing their analysis of the strengths and shortcomings of states’ ESSA plans. Most recently, they’ve added dashboards for: Arizona; Connecticut; Delaware; Maine; Massachusetts; New Jersey; Nevada; North Dakota; Tennessee; and Vermont. See your state’s dashboard.