Christina Samuels reports at Education Week:
With just a handful of weeks left in this presidential administration, the U.S. Department of Education released a final rule Monday that could have a major impact on how districts spend their federal special education money.
The department's regulation creates a standard approach that states must use in determining if their districts are overenrolling minority students in special education compared to their peers of other races. If the disparities are large enough, districts are required to use 15 percent of their federal allotment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act on "coordinated, early intervening services" aimed at addressing the issue.
The department's regulations have been released at the same time that Texas is facing close scrutiny after a newspaper investigation said the state was intentionally keeping its special education enrollment low. Recent research has also stated that there's evidence minority students are underenrolled in special education, not overenrolled.
The new rule attempts to address both of those issues, by forbidding states to create quotas or to artificially reduce their special education identification rates. States are also required to look at whether underidentification could be the cause of disproportionality. "Nothing in these regulations prevents States from working with their [districts] to ensure appropriate identification of children with disabilities and address any potential under-identification that may exist," the regulations state.