Enforcing State Compliance with IDEA 2004

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gavelIDEA outlines procedural safeguards to protect children and allow their parents to be equal participants.

The problem is little or no enforcement of the IDEA.  This has allowed school district staff to create rules on the fly.

The response from my state Department of Education?  “We know our system is flawed and broken. But, our hands are tied.”

Really? Who tied their hands? Seriously.

This is good example of how to use the IDEA, the federal special education law and the implementing regulations …

According to Section 1412 of IDEA, State Departments of Education are responsible for supervising school districts and ensuring that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education.

Yes, you read that right. See page 71 in  Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd ed,

20 U.S.C. 1412 – State Eligibility

(a) In General. A State is eligible for assistance … if the State submits a plan that provides assurances to the Secretary that the State has in effect policies and procedures to ensure that the State meets each of the following conditions:

(A) In General – A free appropriate public education is available to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21, inclusive, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.
. . . [20 U.S.C. 1412(a); page 71 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd ed.]

See also State Educational Agency Responsible for General Supervision.

(A) In General – The State educational agency is responsible for ensuring that–
(i) the requirements of this part are met; and
(ii) all educational programs for children with disabilities in the State, including all such programs administered by any other State or local agency –
(I) are under the general supervision of individuals in the State who are responsible for educational programs for children with disabilities; and
(II) meet the educational standards of the State educational agency . . . [20 U.S.C. 1412(11); page 77 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd ed.]

The IDEA regulations about enforcement are in Subpart F – State Monitoring and Enforcement [300.600-602 and begin on page 268 of Wrightslaw: Special Ed Law]

Monitoring Compliance

Unfortunately, compliance problems are not new, nor are they isolated.

IDEA requires State Departments of Education to monitor school district (LEA) compliance.

When states fail to ensure compliance, there are no sanctions, funds are not withheld by the feds.

Enforcement & Compliance: Back to School on Civil Rights

In 2000, The National Council on Disability (NCD) published “Back to School on Civil Rights,” a report on enforcement and compliance with the IDEA.

Based on its review of the DOE’s monitoring reports of states, NCD found that:

* Every state was out of compliance with IDEA requirements to some degree;
* in the sampling of states studied, noncompliance persisted over many years.

“During the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA, the ‘battle cry’ of parents was enforcement of the law.

Who is responsible for enforcing the law? Who is on the side of the parents and students?”

“Enforcement of the law is the burden of parents who must invoke formal complaint procedure and due process hearings, including expensive litigation, to obtain the appropriate services and supports their children are entitled under the law.”

NCD recommended that Congress turn over enforcement of IDEA to the Dept of Justice. When Congress reauthorized IDEA in 2004, they did not make this change.

Parents and advocates need to shine a light on this problem when the law is reauthorized next time.

Summary of Findings from the IDEA Compliance Report:

TOC with links to chapters of the report:

  1. What role does the educational lawyer play in enforcing compliance with IDEA? Why no sanctions against districts non compliance ever?

  2. I cant believe ths article was posted almost a month ago, yet no one has replied.
    Wrightslaw, tell parents what we need to do to get the IDEA to be enforced. How do we get penalties attached for non-compliance? What steps should we take? My son has been out of school since May. Due process was a nightmare and a joke. I am being forced to put my child back into an abysmal program where he is not safe, and will not be educated, it’s taxpayer funded babysitting, pure and simple.

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