Call To Action!

In response to Trump's Executive Order 13777, the United States Department of Education is currently open to public comment on regulations and significant guidance documents, to determine whether the policies and guidance should remain in place or be repealed or modified. Please get involved and let the Department of Education know that disability rights and civil rights, and the guidance documents which help schools interpret and enact the law, are our priority!

Submit your comments here by Wednesday, September 20th at 11:59 p.m. EST: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/06/22/2017-13157/evaluation-of-existing-regulations. 

Please remember that these are public comments, so any information you include in the comments will be publicly available to the whole internet. Below I have included sample letters, which you are free to use and modify, each about different proposed regulations. 

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Docket ID: 2016-12-28  

Name: The “Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities”

Link: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201612-504-restraint-seclusion-ps.pdf

 

As a (disability activist/disabled person/parent of a student with a disability/teacher of students with disabilities/school administrator), I am writing to ask the Department of Education to retain the “Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities” (2016-12-28). Far too often, students attend school looking to learn and end up separated for their peers and unduly punished. This issue is far more pronounced for students with disabilities, especially disabled students of color. Students with disabilities ought to be able to attend school without being restrained or secluded. Restraint and seclusion can bring lasting physical and emotional harm to students. Schools must not discriminate on the basis of disability or race and ethnicity, but restraint and seclusion have been applied to students with disabilities at higher rates. It is simply unacceptable for a student to be locked in a separate space and/or physically restrained while in a school building.

 

(Here you can share your own stories about how this “Dear Colleague” letter has helped you, your child, and/or your students; or your own stories about education that underscore why this letter is necessary. Please remember when choosing to share information that the comments are publicly available, so it is best not to include confidential information).

 

The “Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities” is important because it reminds schools, teachers, students, and families of their rights under the law, and lets schools know that students with disabilities should not be targeted through restraint and seclusion. This Dear Colleague Letter does not meet criteria for elimination. The letter is not “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective,” nor does it “impose costs that exceed benefits.” Indeed, it is vital, and it should therefore remain in place. After all, all students deserve to be safe in school, and not the target of physically and emotionally harmful punishment measures and disability and race-based discrimination.

 

Sincerely,

(your name)

 

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Docket ID: ED-2016-12-28

Name: “Frequently Asked Questions About The Rights of Students With Disabilities in Public Charter Schools Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act”

Link: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/faq-idea-charter-school.pdf

 

As a (disability activist/disabled person/parent of a student with a disability/teacher of students with disabilities/school administrator), I am writing to ask that the Department of Education retain the document “Frequently Asked Questions About The Rights of Students With Disabilities in Public Charter Schools Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (ED-2016-12-28). Since charter schools are publicly funded, it is very important for students with disabilities and their families and teachers to understand how the IDEA applies to charter school students. Charter school teachers and administrators often require clarification of how the IDEA applies as well.

 

(Here you can share your own stories about how this “Dear Colleague” letter has helped you, your child, and/or your students; or your own stories about education that underscore why this letter is necessary. Please remember when choosing to share information that the comments are publicly available, so it is best not to include confidential information).

 

This document does not meet criteria for elimination. It isn’t “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective,” nor does it “impose costs that exceed benefits.” Indeed, it is very important, and it should therefore remain in place.

 

Sincerely,

(your name)

 

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Docket ID: ED-2015-11-16

Name: “Dear Colleague Letter on Free and Appropriate Public Education”

Link: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-fape-11-17-2015.pdf

 

As (a disability activist/disabled person/parent of a student with a disability/teacher of students with disabilities/school administrator), I am writing to ask the Department of Education to please retain the document “Dear Colleague Letter on Free and Appropriate Public Education” (ED-2015-11-16). This document is an important resource for students with disabilities and their families, teachers, and school administrators. Without such a resource to clarify that disabled students should access general education curriculum, students have ended up not receiving the education which they were due under the law.

 

This “Dear Colleague” letter is important because it presumes competence and clarifies that students with disabilities need access to grade-level general education curricula, as well as offering an example of how to provide this. When schools presume that disabled students are competent and provide access to knowledge, disabled students learn, grow, and succeed. This “Dear Colleague” letter is essential to helping schools understand the law and students and families stand up for their rights to learn and access grade-level lessons.

 

(Here you can share your own stories about how this “Dear Colleague” letter has helped you, your child, and/or your students; or your own stories about education that underscore why access to grade-level education is necessary. Please remember when choosing to share information that the comments are publicly available, so it is best not to include confidential information).

 

The Dear Colleague Letter does not meet criteria for elimination. The letter is not “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective,” nor does it “impose costs that exceed benefits.” Indeed, it is essential, and it should therefore remain in place. After all, all students deserve to learn in school, and providing a “free and appropriate public education” means providing an education that offers access to the grade level content and curricula whether or not the student has a documented disability.

 

Sincerely,

(your name)

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Docket ID: ED-2016-08-01

Name: “Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs”

Link:https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/files/dcl-on-pbis-in-ieps--08-01-2016.pdf

 

As (a disability activist/disabled person/parent of a student with a disability/teacher of students with disabilities/school administrator), I urge the Department of Education to retain the “Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs” (ED-2016-08-01). This letter is important in affirming the rights of students with disabilities, particularly disabled students of color, to access the free appropriate public education that is their right under the law. There is a high level of disproportionality in school discipline measures taken against disabled students, and especially disabled students of color, and this is discriminatory.

 

 (Here you can share your own stories about how this “Dear Colleague” letter has helped you, your child, and/or your students; or your own stories about education that underscore why this letter is necessary. Please remember when choosing to share information that the comments are publicly available, so it is best not to include confidential information.)

 

This “Dear Colleague” letter does not meet the requirement for elimination. Indeed, it should be preserved for its very importance of protecting students from discriminatory punishments and losing out on learning. The letter is not “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective,” nor does it “impose costs that exceed benefits.” Indeed, it is essential, and it should therefore remain in place.

 

Sincerely,

(your name)

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Here is a link to ADDitude Magazine's sample letter in support of the "Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on ADHD": https://www.additudemag.com/sample-letter-department-of-education-to-preserve-adhd-student-rights/. 


Thank you for sticking up for disabled students' rights, and other marginalized students' rights!