DeVos Rescinds 72 Documents Explaining Rights of Students With Disabilities

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education rescinded 72 guidance documents related to the educational rights of students with disabilities.

According to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the documents were revoked as they were “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.” Documents removed include resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act (IDEA), which were removed on October 2.

The department began reviewing its guidance documents after President  Trump signed an executive order in February requiring the federal government to “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

“All of these are meant to be very useful . . . in helping schools and parents understand and fill in with concrete examples the way the law is meant to work when it’s being implemented in various situations,” Lindsay Jones, the chief policy and advocacy officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, told The Washington Post.

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), whose son has cerebral palsy, commented, “Extremely concerning. [Betsy DeVos] has consistently failed to recognize the rights of students with disabilities and must answer for this,” in a tweet on Saturday.

The documents removed include items dating back to the 1980s through to 2014. The files address topics from employment, procedural safeguards and due process procedures for parents and students, rehabilitation services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and guidelines for implementing community-based educational programs for students with disabilities.

“There are no policy implications to these rescissions,” Liz Hill, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education told The Mighty. “If you take a look at the attached list, you will see that the Department is clearing out guidance that is no longer in force or effect because the guidance is superseded by current law/guidance or out of date. Students with disabilities and their advocates will see no impact on services provided.”

This is not the first time the department, run by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has come under fire for its handling of issues related to special education and the rights of disabled students. In February, the website for IDEA went offline and suffered multiple outages for several weeks — prompting concern from disability advocates and parents.

DeVos has also rolled back guidelines related to transgender students and documents outlining how schools should handle sexual assault allegations.

Header image via Gage Skidmore.

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