From Jim Gerl's Special Education Law Blog
By Jim Gerl, Esq.
December 8, 2014
"Students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities, and it appears that not all students with disabilities are receiving the special education and related services to which they are entitled."
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued new guidance last week on the IDEA rights of incarcerated children with disabilities.
The guidance spells out the responsibilities of state departments of education, school districts and other LEAs, correctional facilities and non-educational agencies in providing child find, identification, evaluation, FAPE, least restrictive environment, discipline protections and other provisions of IDEA.
Here is a quote from the letter:
"Students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities, and it appears that not all students with disabilities are receiving the special education and related services to which they are entitled. National reports document that approximately one third of students in juvenile correctional facilities were receiving special education services, ranging from 9 percent to 78 percent across jurisdictions. States reported that in 2012–2013, of 5,823,844 students with disabilities, ages 6 through 21, served under IDEA, Part B, 16,157 received special education and related services in correctional facilities.
Evidence suggests that proper identification of students with disabilities and the quality of education services offered to students in these settings is often inadequate. Challenges such as overcrowding, frequent transfers in and out of facilities, lack of qualified teachers, inability to address gaps in students’ education, and lack of collaboration with the LEA contribute to the problem. Providing the students with disabilities in these facilities the free appropriate public education (FAPE) to which they are entitled under the IDEA should facilitate their successful reentry into the school, community, and home, and enable them to ultimately lead successful adult lives."
You can read the entire twenty-one page Dear Colleague letter here. The guidance was a part of a larger package, consisting of four guidance documents, of materials on the topic of educating incarcerated youth jointly issued by the federal departments of Education and Justice. You can review the entire package here. The joint guidance follows the release of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force Report in May.