Civil Rights, Children’s Advocacy, and Education Groups Support Racial Equity in Special Education

Education News 12.7.17

WASHINGTONToday, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 112 civil rights (including disability rights), education, and children’s advocacy organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos expressing their continued support for the robust enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provisions regarding significant disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities with regard to race and ethnicity.

The letter is in response to press reports that the department was considering a delay in regulations addressing the over-identification, and routine exclusion, of children of color in special education.

The groups write:

“As parents, students, and advocates working to eliminate discriminatory practices that undermine equal educational opportunity, we know all too well that students of color are disproportionately misidentified for certain categories of special education, placed in restrictive learning environments at higher rates than their White peers with disabilities (where their outcomes are significantly worse than those of other students), and subjected to punitive discipline practices more often. We wholeheartedly support the collection of data on significant disproportionality … Moreover, we recognize that these data, once collected, should inform action to address systemic barriers to students’ success.”

Since the rule has been in force for more than a year, the groups write that “further delay and review serves no meaningful purpose and will only result in harm to children” and urge the department to enforce the rule as written.

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit