Report Raises Triple Threat: Safety, Discipline, & Special Education

Dean Micknal
Dean Micknal

The Federal Commission on School Safety recently issued its Final Report. A copy of the full report can be accessed via the Commission’s website here.

The Report has made early headlines primarily due to its criticism of the Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” guidance, which included rules targeting exclusionary discipline and requiring the application of disparate impact analysis when reviewing potentially discriminatory discipline practices. 

However, the Report also implicates several issues related to student confidentiality under FERPA and special education.  Most notably, the Commission’s findings that “[a]pproximately one in 10 children…experience a serious emotional disturbance (SED)” and that “up to 79 percent of school-age youth have unmet mental health needs” could have massive child-find and funding implications under both Section 504 and IDEA for school districts.

It should be noted that the Report and the Commission’s recommendations are just that…they do not constitute official regulations and place no additional legal obligations on districts.  That said, they should not be ignored, as they can certainly be expected to drive further action by state and federal lawmakers.

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