National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

COPAA v. DeVos

This lawsuit filed on behalf of Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) seeks to ensure timely compliance with an important U.S. Department of Education regulation that is intended to compel States and school districts to measure, examine, and, when appropriate, reduce significant disproportionality in the identification of students of color as students with disabilities for the purposes of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as in the educational placement and disciplining of students of color with disabilities under IDEA. The decision to delay the regulation is an assault on a key tool for civil rights enforcement. These regulations are necessary for IDEA to fulfil its intended purpose of ensuring children with disabilities get the education services they need in the most appropriate setting without regard to their race. They also respond to the reality that many school districts aren’t correctly identifying whether students of color need special education, sometimes under-identifying, sometime over-identifying, but rarely just right. It’s well documented that students of color who are wrongly identified as needing special education are improperly placed in restrictive classrooms, lose access to challenging academics, and are subjected to unfair disciplinary measures. The lawsuit alleges that the delay of these regulations was arbitrary and capricious and violates the Administrative Procedures Act.