United States Department of Education Rescinds 72 Guidance Documents Concerning Students with Disabilities

On October 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (“OSERS”) rescinded 72 guidance documents concerning students with disabilities. The rescissions stem from the U.S. Department of Education’s larger effort to comply with Executive Order 13777, signed by President Trump on February 24, 2017, requiring all federal agencies to eliminate outdated and unnecessary regulations.

Of the 72 guidance documents rescinded by OSERS, 9 pertained to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The remaining 63 rescinded documents provided guidance on the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”).

With respect to IDEA, the rescinded documents span from 1980 through 2014. They cover a variety of topics, including parentally placed private school students with disabilities, maintenance of effort, and technical assistance initiatives.

For example, OSERS rescinded a 2006 document that explained the rights of children with disabilities in private schools, as the document had been superseded by another guidance document in 2011. Additionally, OSERS rescinded a 2009 document explaining the procedural safeguards and due process procedures for students with disabilities. OSERS explained that the 2009 document was superseded by a 2013 document. Furthermore, a 2007 document about teacher qualifications was rescinded on the basis that the underlying laws and regulations were subsequently changed.

As part of the rescission, OSERS released a list that identified each document that was rescinded and the reasons for rescission. According to OSERS, the documents fell into three broad categories that warranted rescission: outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective. Of the 63 rescinded documents pertaining to IDEA, 51 of those documents were outdated and 12 were superseded.

Most of the documents that were outdated either applied to a specified time period or were otherwise outdated due to subsequent changes in the law or regulations. Thirty-one of the documents were promulgated before 2000; others were from the No Child Left Behind era. The 12 superseded documents were almost entirely replaced by subsequent guidance documents covering the same topic or issue.

Ultimately, OSERS and the U.S. Department of Education maintain the rescissions will not result in policy changes or otherwise impact services. Indeed, even if a particular guidance document was rescinded, the regulations the guidance document referred to remain in place.

A full list of the rescinded guidance documents and the reasons for rescission can be found here.

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