Kids with disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education complete with academics, therapies and other supports even if they’re locked up, federal officials say.
In new guidance, the Obama administration is reminding states and local agencies that students do not relinquish their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act if they are incarcerated.
“The fact that a student has been charged with or convicted of a crime does not diminish his or her substantive rights or the procedural safeguards and remedies provided under the IDEA to students with disabilities and their parents,” wrote the U.S. Department of Education’s Melody Musgrove and Michael Yudin in a letter being sent this week to state and local officials responsible for educating youth in correctional facilities.
The “Dear Colleague” correspondence specifying obligations under IDEA comes as part of a broad package issued jointly by the Education and Justice Departments designed to clarify responsibilities to all students who are incarcerated.
The issue is meaningful, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, since about 20 percent of youth in juvenile justice facilities have disabilities and many are not getting the services they need.