U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

On December 28, 2016 the U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance on federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities.

The guidance documents include a Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools; a Dear Colleague letter (DCL) and Q & A document on the Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools; and DCL and Q & A documents on the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools.

Data collected by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights indicates that schools restrain and seclude students with disabilities at higher rates than students without disabilities.  During the 2013-14 school year, students with disabilities served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) represented 12% of students enrolled in public schools nationally, but 67% of the students who were subjected to restraint or seclusion in school.

These new guidance documents will help to clarify the rights of students with disabilities and outline the steps parents can take to ensure that their children secure all of the services they are entitled to receive.