- Starting in 2018-19, states must start using a standardized method to determine if school districts have wide disparities in how they identify, place in segregated settings, or discipline minority students with disabilities, Education Week reports.
- School systems found to have state-defined "significant disproportionality" in one or more of those areas must use 15% of their federal special education dollars on remedies for the issue.
- The cost to states to implement the special education regulations over 10 years are estimated at between $50 million and $91 million, depending on how many districts reach the threshold.
The new special education bias rule that will begin to be implemented next year is an Obama-era revision of a George W. Bush policy signed into effect in 2004. However, under the old plan, fewer than 5% of school districts meet the disproportionality threshold. The new revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) calls for states to provide better definitions and methodologies for determining this threshold and will likely mean that more school districts will be identified in the coming years. The funding method under the new provisions has also been broadened, as well.
With the new rule changes, most individual states are looking at policy changes and redefinitions surrounding the special education bias rule. School districts will need to stay abreast of these changes to make sure they are within the new guidelines.
The rationale for the policy is based in an attempt to break the school-to-prison pipeline some argue still exists and to ensure that minority students get equal access to special education programs. Though most school districts try to be fair about these issues, the new rules help ensure that any unconscious bias is monitored and corrected. One way schools may be able to deal with these issues is by strengthening alliances with the federally-funded Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), whose stated purpose is to “improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schools and other agencies” and “improve social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities and students from underrepresented groups.”