The U.S. Department of Education did not do its homework. In 2018, it halted Obama-era regulations that address racial disparities in special education, but according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the department did not perform the necessary analysis before doing so. That failure violated not only mom’s cardinal rule (do your homework!) but also the Administrative Procedure Act. So the court vacated the department’s decision to halt the regulations, handing a major victory to children with disabilities and their families.


Racial disparities in special education are a big problem, but for years, a seemingly small detail has undermined efforts to address them: how states define “significant disproportionality,” a term found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that governs special education. The case here, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates v. DeVos, No. 18-1636 (D.D.C. Mar. 7, 2019), arose from the department delaying Obama-era regulations which imposed guidelines for defining “significant disproportionality.”

  • Racial disparities pervade special education.

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