Department Releases Guidelines on Choice

December 11, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Department of Education spelled out last week how students with disabilities should be accommodated under federal requirements on school choice.

Read the draft guidance on Public School Choice, Dec. 4, 2002, from the Education Department. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Beyond that issue, the draft guidance released Dec. 4 on school choice provisions in the new federal education law appeared not to delve much into matters the department hadn’t already covered, or to offer any real surprises. The agency put out final Title I regulations late last month that codified some of the most significant requirements of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 when it comes to choice. (“Final Rules Give States Direction, Little Flexibility,” Dec. 4, 2002.)

And last June, Secretary of Education Rod Paige sent states and school districts a letter giving preliminary guidance on some of the core issues related to meeting the choice mandate.

The draft guidance, however, arrived a few months after states and school districts were supposed to first meet the school choice requirements.

Under the federal law, a revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, districts must allow students to transfer out of persistently low-performing schools. A school system must use a portion of its federal Title I aid to pay the transportation costs to send those students to higher-performing schools in the district.

The draft guidance issued last week, written in a question-and-answer format, tackles 66 questions about the school choice mandate, such as the timing and duration of the option, the eligibility of students, when and how to notify parents, potential conflicts with desegregation orders, and funding.

The document makes clear that students with disabilities must be allowed to transfer out of schools that are deemed low-performing, but says districts do not necessarily have to offer them the same options as those given to students without disabilities.

“In offering choice to students with disabilities, school districts may match the abilities and needs of a student with disabilities to the possible schools that have the ability to provide the student [a free, appropriate public education],” the department writes in the draft guidance. Districts cannot send those students to another school that has been labeled low-performing, the department says.

School Responsibilities

The guidance also addresses the responsibilities of schools that receive transfer students with disabilities.

For instance, it says those schools must comply with all federal requirements relating to students with disabilities, including accessibility provisions. Also, it says the district could allow the school of choice either to implement the transfer student’s individualized education plan developed by the prior school for the new school year, or convene an IEP team and draw up a new one to meet that student’s needs.

In other areas, the guidance reiterates key aspects of the school choice requirements that the Education Department has already made clear, some of which have proved controversial. For example, the final Title I regulations say that a district cannot use lack of capacity as an excuse to deny students alternative schools to attend.

The guidance also reiterates the stipulation in the final regulations that districts provide more than one choice option.

Melinda Malico, a department spokeswoman, said that, while the guidance technically is in draft form, “People can rely on it. It is the guidance,” and department officials will consider those that follow this approach to be in compliance with the applicable federal requirements.

A version of this article appeared in the December 11, 2002 edition of Education Week as Department Releases Guidelines on Choice


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Working Smarter, Not Harder with Data
There is a new paradigm shift in K-12 education. Technology and data have leapt forward, advancing in ways that allow educators to better support students while also maximizing their most precious resource – time. The
Content provided by PowerSchool
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Deepen the Reach and Impact of Your Leadership
This webinar offers new and veteran leaders a unique opportunity to listen and interact with four of the most influential educational thinkers in North America. With their expert insights, you will learn the key elements
Content provided by Solution Tree
Science K-12 Essentials Forum Teaching Science Today: Challenges and Solutions
Join this event which will tackle handling controversy in the classroom, and making science education relevant for all students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona Should Help Schools Push Parents to Store Guns Safely, Lawmakers Say
More than 100 members of Congress say a recent shooting at a Michigan high school underscores the need for Education Department action.
3 min read
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the residence of parents of the Oxford High School shooter on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the Crumbley residence while seeking James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP
Federal In Reversal, Feds Seek to Revive DeVos-Era Questions About Sexual Misconduct by Educators
The Education Department's decision follows backlash from former education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other conservatives.
4 min read
Illustration of individual carrying binary data on his back to put back into the organized background of 1s and 0s.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Federal Biden Administration Lays Out Its Top Priorities for Education Grants
The pandemic's impact and a diverse, well-prepared educator workforce are among areas the administration wants to fund at its discretion.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Aug. 5, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a White House briefing.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal Opinion How Uncle Sam Writes the Rules for Schools
Former Education Department adviser Michael Brickman explains how negotiated rule making works and why educators should pay close attention.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty