The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance (not a mandate) on August 1, 2016, in the form of a Dear Colleague letter that emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports. When schools fail to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the Individualized Education Program (IEP), it is likely to result in children not receiving the free appropriate public education to which they are entitled under federal law.
“All students, including those with disabilities, should have the supports and equitable educational opportunities they need to be successful in school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “It’s our duty as parents and educators to ensure that children who show up at school to learn get the maximum out of their educational experience. This guidance will help schools create a safe, supportive learning environment for those students who need additional behavioral supports and services to help them thrive.”