The American Bar Association has published an article on Fulfill The Promise written by Gloria Martinez, Grace Regullano, Heather Zakson, and Anthony V LeClair:
Serious, systemic deficiencies in our nation’s schools existed for students with disabilities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most egregious racial discipline disparities have been well documented for as long as we have collected data on students with disabilities. Parents have struggled to navigate the increasing multitude of barriers just to obtain an individualized education plan (IEP) for their children who need specialized instruction and services. Meanwhile, school districts and administrators have failed to provide even the least resource-intensive accommodations for students who require only accommodations and not full-fledged IEP service plans. Schools continue to lack counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses at adequate ratios to meet the growing, complex needs of students. And the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the department’s dedicated civil rights enforcement arm (and perhaps our greatest tool for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, as discussed below), has failed to meet its mission to protect students’ civil rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. It is more important than ever that we tackle the long-standing civil rights vacuum in special education as we simultaneously deal with the current pandemic and look forward to recovery.
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