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Obama Administration Expands Special Education Oversight

We frequently write about the ways in which the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act governs the public education of students with special needs. Specifically, this legislation requires that public school districts must meet the needs of students who require special education. However, this law has been interpreted loosely in some jurisdictions to the detriment of students with disabilities.

In order to address this pressing problem, the Obama administration has released new criteria related to the implementation of this important educational law. According to The Washington Post, the release of the heightened criteria has reduced the number of jurisdictions currently in compliance with federal special education law from a relatively respectable 38 to an absolutely unacceptable 15.

At present, an estimated seven million public school children require special education. In order to meet those needs, The Washington Post reports that the federal Education Department annually distributes a staggering $11.5 billion to states in order to supplement state funds used to pay for special education services. Despite this money and monitoring by the Education Department, the vast majority of states now fail to comply with federal special education standards.

Over time, it is likely that many more jurisdictions will rise to meet the new standards. As a result, the new criteria represent an important benchmark and advancement for the quality of special educational programs run by public schools nationwide. However, it remains deeply disconcerting that so few jurisdictions are currently in compliance with the new criteria. If you have concerns about the quality of your child’s special education program, please contact an attorney experienced in this area of law.

Source: The Washington Post, “States’ special education services face tighter oversight by the Obama administration,” Lyndsey Layton, June 24, 2014

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