In a newsletter written on Friday, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services stated that “a total of 72 guidance documents… have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective — 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).”
Advocates for students with disabilities are in the process of reviewing the move to assess its potential impact. Lindsay E. Jones, chief policy and advocacy officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, noted that the removal of documents outlining how schools can use federal funding for special education is particularly concerning.
“All of these are meant to be very useful…in helping schools and parents understand and fill in with concrete examples the way the law is meant to work when it’s being implemented in various situations,” Jones said.
As reported by Newsy, the documents included guidance and directives on vocational programs, independent living services, and “free appropriate public education” for students with disabilities.
According to Jones, the Education Department held a hearing in February regarding potential changes to special education guidance. She says education advocates and disability rights groups urged officials to keep all 72 guidance documents in place.
The guidance documents included detailed information about the rights of students with disabilities and clarified how federal funds could be used for special education. According to The Washington Post, some of these documents had been in place since the 1980s.
Although it’s not uncommon for new administrations to update these documents, Jones says this is the first time she’s seen so many eliminated at once.