Federal File

Disabilities No Bar to Higher Classes, OCR Tells Schools

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

The Department of Education’s office for civil rights has written to school district leaders, reminding them that students with disabilities are eligible to take part in advanced academic programs and do not forfeit their right to special education services by enrolling in such classes.

The Dec. 26 “Dear Colleague” letter refers to students with disabilities who want to enroll in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or other accelerated classes.

Without citing specifics, the OCR says that some schools and districts have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to enroll in advanced classes. In other cases, students have been allowed to enroll as long as they give up services designed to meet their needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Such conditions violate federal law, which requires individual determinations of student needs, said Stephanie J. Monroe, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights.

The letter adds that “if a qualified student with a disability requires related aids and services to participate in a regular education class or program, then a school cannot deny that student the needed related aids and services in an accelerated class or program.”

Department spokesman Jim Bradshaw said the letter was issued in response to informal technical-assistance requests and complaints.

Some educators may be unaware that gifted students may also have learning disabilities, but that mind-set is changing, said Susan K. Johnsen, the president of the Association for the Gifted, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, located in Arlington, Va.

The special education community is much more sensitive to students with disabilities who may be able to handle accelerated work, said Ms. Johnsen, who is also a professor in the department of educational psychology at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

The Education Department’s letter helps make such knowledge “explicit, rather than assuming everyone knows it,” she said.

Vol. 27, Issue 17, Page 17

Published in Print: January 9, 2008, as Disabilities No Bar to Higher Classes, OCR Tells Schools
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >