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Officials Urge Schools to Address Bullying of Students With Disabilities

Federal Officials Urge Schools to Address Bullying of Students With Disabilities

Federal officials are urging schools to fulfill their responsibilities after hearing a number of complaints of students with disabilities being subjected to bullying. 

The U.S. Department of Education are "reminding the nation's schools of their responsibilities" in a "Dear Colleague" letter to educators, said an article on DisabilityScoop.com. The letter reminds educators that "schools are obligated under federal law to step in immediately when bullying of students with disabilities is suspected and act to halt attacks and prevent any recurrence."

"In recent years, the Office for Civil Rights [OCR] in the U.S. Department of Education [Department] has received an ever-increasing number of complaints concerning the bullying of students with disabilities and the effects of that bullying on their education, including on the special education and related services to which they are entitled," the letter said.

Since 2009, the article said, "the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights said it has received more than 2,000 complaints stemming from issues at public schools across the country."

“While there is broad consensus that bullying cannot be tolerated, the sad reality is that bullying persists in our schools today, especially for students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education. “Basic decency and respect demand that our schools ensure that all their students learn in a safe environment.”

The new guidance, the article said, "makes clear that there are protections in place for students whether they are served in school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act."

"In cases where students with disabilities are believed to be experiencing bullying, schools must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring,” the Education Department said.

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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