Dept. of Justice Finds Florida School District Discriminated Against Students with Disabilities; Routinely Relied on Suspensions and Referrals to Law Enforcement

March 5, 2024, U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) released the findings of its investigation into Pasco County Public Schools (PCPS) and its settlement agreement with PCPS.

The investigation focused on the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 school years and concluded PCPS discriminated against students who have disabilities when it “routinely relied on suspensions and referrals to law enforcement to respond to students’ disability-related behaviors that could have been addressed through proper behavioral interventions and supports.”

U.S. Dept. of Education Addresses IDEA Noncompliance in Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas

United States Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued differentiated monitoring support (DMS) reports  and/or letters for Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, addressing findings of noncompliance with Part B and/or Part C of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

OSEP monitors all IDEA Part C and B programs through its DMS system and “differentiates its approach for each state based on the state’s unique strengths, progress, challenges, and needs.” This cyclical monitoring process focuses on states’ general supervision systems. OSEP will continue to provide support and technical assistance that is differentiated based on each state’s needs.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Update on Arkansas Monitoring; Noncompliance Continues in 8 out of 9 Areas Identified

July 5, 2023, U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs issued a “close-out letter” to Arkansas Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, regarding OSEP’s IDEA Part C Monitoring of Arkansas.

Although OSEP characterizes such letters as “close-out” letters, they are more status reports than close-out letters, since the latter infers close-out of all monitoring, rather than one of nine issues being closed out in this case, with eight of nine remaining in noncompliance.

U.S. Dept. of Education Releases 2023 Determination Letters; Virginia Failed to Meet Requirements, While States Like Alabama Climbed Out of Years of “Needs Assistance” Determinations

June 26, 2023, U.S. Department of Education released its annual determination letters.

While a few states improved their performance, others continued to fail.

In 2023, 23 states or entities met requirements, as compared to 22 in 2022; six states need assistance (one year) in 2023, compared to 3 in 2022; 29 need assistance (two or more consecutive years) in 2023, compared to 35 in 2022; and two states need intervention in 2023, compared to zero in 2022.

Virginia Remains Outlier as U.S. Dept. of Education Announces Close-Out of Monitoring in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona

March 27, 2023, U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) publicly released the status of various monitoring activities, citing closure of monitoring of Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona, and expanded monitoring of Virginia.

USDOE announced monitoring of Hawaii in 2019; of Arizona, Florida, and Virginia in 2020; and of Delaware in 2021. USDOE closed out monitoring of four of the five states within one-to-three years.

In the case of Virginia, it is on track to take more than three years to come into compliance with Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).