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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Education Department Guidance Rollback, Take Two

At Education Week, Christina Samuels explains that the Education Department's rollback of some special education/rehab guidance ran into criticism from groups that distrust the administration.
On Tuesday, the Education Department tried again. It released the same list of rescinded regulations, but now the list includes explanations of just why these particular documents were targeted. As I noted last week, the guidance and memos are decades old, were created for a limited purpose, or have been superseded by newer laws and regulations.

"There are no policy implications to these rescissions," said Liz Hill, a department spokeswoman. "Students with disabilities and their advocates will see no impact on services provided."

But this dustup demonstrates how disability advocates are on a hair trigger when it comes to this administration—and they have been from the start, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stumbled during her confirmation hearing over questions of special education policy.
And though these particular guidance documents are just old, the department has made substantive changes in policy that angered many civil rights, including ending an Obama-era policy of seeing whether individual civil rights complaints might be caused by systemic violations, and requirements that schools allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identity.
Why don't disability advocates trust the Trump Administration?  Because it's not trustworthy.  At Pacific Standard, David Perry writes:
It's possible that, once experts have slogged through each of the documents and double-checked all standards, we will discover that these specific revocations aren't a crisis. The fear, however, will continue, because the disability-rights community is feeling the strain of being targeted by the Trump administration and the GOP in so many different ways. Over the summer, the slew of attacks on Medicaid left many disabled people and their caregivers terrified about losing health care, and about whether they'd be able to live in communities rather than institutions. Now, the Department of Education is issuing this mass revocation of guidelines. There's no reason to believe things won't get worse. Nish Weiseth, a writer and parent of a disabled child, characterized the recent move as an instance of this administration "keeping disabled people and their families in a perpetual state of trauma.