In July 2022, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released multiple guidance documents to help public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline. The documents include:
Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504
This 41-page guidance describes schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 to ensure nondiscrimination against students based on disability when imposing student discipline.
An accompanying Fact Sheet | 4 pages
Questions and Answers Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities and the IDEA’s Discipline Provisions
57 pages | https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/qa-addressing-the-needs-of-children-with-disabilities-and-idea-discipline-provisions.pdf
Positive, Proactive Approaches to Supporting the Needs of Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Stakeholders
19 pages | https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/guide-positive-proactive-approaches-to-supporting-children-with-disabilities.pdf
Letter from Secretary Cardona
Written to our nation’s educators, school leaders, parents, and students about the importance of supporting the needs of students with disabilities.
These newly released resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students and schools through pandemic recovery. If you’d like a brief summary of each, see the additional information we provide below.
Video Summary | There’s also a 5-minute video from the Department that summarizes the key elements of these guidance documents and provides current data on students with disabilities, discipline at school, and who is disproportionally impacted. View the video at: https://vimeo.com/731032121
Additional Information about Each Document and Its Contents
1 | Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504
The guidance explains how compliance with Section 504’s requirement to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities can assist schools in effectively supporting and responding to behavior that is based on a student’s disability and that could lead to student discipline. By using Section 504’s procedures to identify and meet the behavioral, social, emotional, and academic needs of students with disabilities as required for FAPE, schools can help prevent or reduce behaviors that might otherwise result in discipline. As the guidance explains, when schools do choose to administer discipline for students with disabilities, they must do so in a nondiscriminatory manner.
Brief look at the Table of Contents | 6 sections + an appendix of terms used in the guidance |
- The scope of Section 504; Section 504 and IDEA
- Providing FAPE to students with disability-based behavior
- Reasonable modifications to disciplinary policies for students with disabilities
- Section 504’s general prohibition of disability discrimination in student discipline
- Multiple bases of discrimination and intersectional discrimination
- Conclusion + Appendix of terms
2 | Accompanying Fact Sheet
This 4-page Fact Sheet summarizes the guidance above and highlights public schools’ obligations under Section 504 to:
- Provide a free appropriate public education to K-12 students with disability-based behavior;
- Make reasonable modifications to disciplinary policies for students with disabilities; and
- Administer student discipline requirements in a nondiscriminatory manner.
This Q&A (OSEP Q&A 22-02) addresses IDEA’s discipline provisions (not Section 504’s). It updates and supersedes the OSERS guidance entitled Questions and Answers on Discipline Procedures, issued in June 2009. Its 57 pages include additional questions and answers that address topics that have arisen as the field continues to carry out the discipline provisions of IDEA and its implementing regulations. Key topics include removing a child with a disability from
their current educational placement and the responsibilities of individualized education program (IEP) teams to address the behavioral needs of children with disabilities through the evaluation, reevaluation, and IEP development process to ensure the provision of FAPE.
Brief look at the Table of Contents | 12 sections + an appendix of terms used in the guidance
A. Obligations to Meet the Needs of Eligible Children with Disabilities under IDEA
B. An Overview of IDEA’s Discipline Procedures
C. Change in Placement
D. Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES)
E. Special Circumstances
F. Manifestation Determination Review
G. IDEA’s Requirements for FBAs and BIPs
H. Provision of Services During Periods of Removal
I. Protections for Children Not Yet Determined Eligible for Services under IDEA
J. Application of IDEA Discipline Protections in Certain Specific Circumstances
K. Resolving Disagreements
L. State Oversight and Data Reporting Responsibilities
In this technical assistance document (a companion to OSEP Q&A 22-02, the guidance just described above), the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides information about resources, strategies, and evidence-based practices that (while not required by law) can help States, LEAs, schools, early childhood programs, educators, and families in their efforts to meet IDEA requirements and, in doing so, improve outcomes for children with disabilities.
Brief look at the Table of Contents | 4 sections, with multiple subsections
I. Proactively Addressing Disparities in, and Negative Outcomes from, Exclusionary Discipline
II. Investing in School and Educator Capacity
III. Federal Funding Available to Address Disparities in, and to Reduce the Use of, Exclusionary Discipline
IV. Federal Resources to Support State and Local Efforts to Address Disparities in, and Reduce the Use of, Exclusionary Discipline