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Betsy DeVos Rescinds Policy Docs Outlining Rights Of Disabled Students


by Lisa Eppich

In an ongoing effort by the Trump Administration to eliminate regulations it considers "unnecessary," Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of disabled students. Each of the 72 guidance documents is listed here and includes transition programs and services, nondiscrimination requirements, and procedural safeguards for parents and children with disabilities. As reported by The Washington Post, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter on Friday that these documents have been rescinded because they are "outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective." It is not yet clear what the overall impact this move will have on children with disabilities in schools, and advocates are currently assessing the situation.

Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) said that the reason these guidance documents were created was to provide "critical clarifications of the regulations required to meet the needs of students with disabilities and provide them a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment." Scott also explains that regulations in place for students with disabilities have not been removed and are still being enforced, but without these critical clarifications and guidelines. This includes clarification how schools could spend federal money set aside for special education, as well as documents that clarify legal jargon for parents so they can better understand the laws surrounding disability policies in schools. 

This policy shift comes on the heels of DeVos rolling back guidelines for handling campus sexual assault, arguing that these Obama-era amendments to Title IX don't do enough to protect people who are wrongfully accused. DeVos offered no replacement policy and met with men's rights advocates while deciding the fate of these guidelines. Men's rights advocates are known for demonizing women and placing the way women are dressed or behave on why they are sexually assaulted, and often play a large role in undermining or discretion female survivors of sexual assault who come forward against their harassers.

Representative Scott said that eliminating guidelines for disabled students is “the latest in a series of disturbing actions taken by the Trump administration to undermine civil rights for vulnerable Americans." This includes rolling back transgender rights and leaving out provisions for LGBTQI+ employees in the Trump administration's equal employment opportunity statement. Disabled students now join women, people of color, non-European immigrants, and the LGBTQI+ community as those whose rights have been rescinded and have otherwise been marginalized by the Trump administration. With weary hearts we wonder: Who is next?