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Fed concern: disproportionality in states' special ed programs

A recent federal government study indicates that a mere fraction of school districts across the country -- in fact, just a paltry 2 percent -- report that there is an excessive number of non-white children in their special education programs. That conclusion is arrived at, notes a recent media article discussing special education and minorities, "when states use their own methods" for gauging participation in such programs.

The Obama administration and federal regulators want to put a stop to state-authored processes and determinations regarding student demographics in the realm of special education, for a very direct and simple reason: They don't find them credible.

In fact, they believe that the results of reports based on wide discretionary latitude for state officials assessing special education are seriously flawed and have resulted in a skewed picture of disabled students who participate in special ed school programs across the country.

What the current presidential administration and the U.S. Department of Education specifically believe is that many states are underreporting instances where marked bias exists in such programs. As noted in the above-cited media account, the targeted concern of federal authorities is that "too many students of color are placed in these programs and disciplined disproportionately."

Reformists now seek change, with a new rule being proposed that would mandate state reporting pursuant to a standard method for determining significant disparities to be drafted at the national level.

"It's not about identifying bad actors," says one highly placed federal official. "It's an opportunity to check practices and supports."

Bias and charges of racism are of course serious matters in any context, and especially so where meaningful education for all students is concerned.

Any parent or caregiver with questions or concerns regarding any aspect of special education might reasonably want to contact a proven attorney who practices solely on behalf of disabled students seeking to exercise their rights to a quality education.

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