Thursday, August 22, 2013
DOE Guidance Letter: Schools’ Failure to Protect Students with Disabilities from Bullying Violates IDEA
The Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services sent a guidance letter to schools yesterday reminding them of their obligation to prevent and address bullying of students with disabilities. The letter states that any “bullying of a student with a disability that results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit” violates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The letter also notes that changing an educational program of a student with a disability (e.g., placement in a more restricted “protected” setting to avoid bullying behavior) may constitute a denial of a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible. The letter also suggests that schools include a reminder in their antibullying policies that harassment against a student on the basis of disability and retaliation against any person are also prohibited under Section 504, Title II, and other Federal civil rights laws. Read the letter here.