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'Deeply Troubled' Bonamici Stands Up For Student Equity

May 14, 2018
In The News

From US House of Reps: Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, a leader on the House Education Committee, stood up for students of color who are disproportionately identified for special education services, placed in more restrictive classroom settings, and disciplined at higher rates than their same-age white peers with disabilities.

Bonamici pressed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to protect and promote the civil rights of all students and promptly enforce the Equity in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulation.

"On the week of the 64th anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision, I am deeply troubled by your efforts to delay the rule that addresses widespread disparities between white students and students of color with disabilities," wrote Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. "The disproportionate representation of children of color in special education contributes to segregation in our education system and perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline. Children with disabilities, particularly African American students with disabilities, are suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates."

The Equity in IDEA regulation requires states to identify and address when students of color are inappropriately identified for special education.

A 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that only about two percent of school districts were taking action despite pervasive and persistent disparities.

Bonamici pushed back, saying:

"Working to dismantle inequities in education with urgency is critical to creating and promoting an education system that helps all children achieve their highest potential. 
As Secretary, it is your responsibility to protect and promote the civil rights of all students. Any delay of this regulation would be a dereliction of that responsibility and would impede current initiatives in states to address significant disproportionality. 
I urge you to maintain the Equity in IDEA regulation to fulfill the will of Congress and to make sure the provision of services to students of color with disabilities to help them receive a high-quality, equitable education to achieve their full potential."

Bonamici, Vice Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is a steadfast advocate for strengthening public education and promoting equity in education.

You can read a full copy of Bonamici's letter here or below.