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SPLC statement on the Department of Education rescinding guidance documents

The U.S. Department of Education recently rescinded 72 guidance documents that were designed to help parents, educators and advocates understand how federal law protects services and accommodations for students with disabilities.

The education department claimed that the documents were “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.” Yet while some of the documents have been updated and therefore might have been outdated, others – such as one explaining new regulations to parents that governed how the department would balance family rights and access to public benefits – were not.

Before rescinding the documents, the education department sought input from disability rights advocates and affected communities, who advised against withdrawing them. The department ignored their advice.

It’s not the first time the Trump administration has rolled back guidance designed to help students. In February, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded guidance that directed schools not to discriminate against students on the basis of their transgender status. In September, she scrapped rules outlining how schools should investigate sexual misconduct, claiming, among other things, that they did not sufficiently take into account the rights of the accused.

This is the latest example of the education department acting without regard for the vulnerable people it is supposed to protect. Families of disabled students need clear, accurate and consistent information about their rights under federal law, and the education department must provide it.

Instead, by rescinding guidance documents without a clear explanation for their removal, the department has given disabled students and their families reason to believe that it is not acting in their best interest.