Equity in IDEA: New Disproportionality Regulations and Supports

In 2016 the federal Office of Special Education Programs amended the IDEA regulations relating to significant disproportionality. This disproportionality generally occurs when students of one racial or ethnic group are more likely to receive special education identification, placement in a more restrictive setting, or more out of class discipline compared to all other students, thus denying them access to instruction and the support they need to succeed academically.

The IDEA requires the Department to promote equity by identifying and preventing significant disproportionality. Looking at disproportionality data helps ensure that the right services are getting to the right students in the right way. 

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Significant Disproportionality

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), US Department of Education, is reviewing the timeline for implementation of the new significant disproportionality regulations. On February 27, 2018, OSERS published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would postpone for two years the compliance date of the significant disproportionality regulations published on December 19, 2016.

The notice of proposed rulemaking reads:

“In order to ensure the Department's “Equity in IDEA” or “significant disproportionality” regulations effectively address significant disproportionality, the Department proposes to postpone the compliance date by two years, from July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2020. The Department also proposes to postpone the date for including children ages three through five in the analysis of significant disproportionality with respect to the identification of children as children with disabilities and as children with a particular impairment from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022.”

Full text of the NPRM is available from the Federal Register here:
The public may submit comments on the NPRM through www.regulations.gov on or before May 14, 2018.

New Data for Special Education Profiles

Ohio’s Special Education Profiles currently include data on disproportionality related to identification and discipline of students with disabilities. In 2016, the federal Office of Special Education Programs revised IDEA regulations, clarifying the categories of discipline events that states must review. Currently, profiles include discipline data only on out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of more than 10 cumulative days. The expanded data will include all in-school suspensions, out-of-school-suspensions and expulsions. Other new data will include total disciplinary removals, including in-school and out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and removals by school personnel and hearing officers.

The Department will share a preview of  disproportionality data, for informational purposes only, when implementation timelines are clarified.  The data preview will allow districts to work with the Office for Exceptional Children and their State Support Teams to examine and improve their systems of support for students with disabilities.

Implementing the New Regulations

To prepare for these changes, the Department will gather stakeholder groups to offer feedback and help design policies, practices, procedures and supports.

As you prepare EMIS student data, it is important to confirm the accuracy of discipline data submitted. The Department recommends special education staff work with personnel responsible for reporting discipline events to ensure accuracy of these data: 

  • Reported number of days of discipline;
  • Discipline type;
  • Race of the student; and
  • Disability condition (or lack thereof) in the student detail record.

Find more information about the new disproportionality regulations here.

Last Modified: 5/21/2019 2:04:13 PM