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One-Stop List of Recent Guidances from the U.S. Department of Education

One-Stop List of Recent Guidances from the U.S. Department of Education

July 2017
Looking for a one-stop list to the guidance and resource packages that came out of the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 (there were so many!)—and now in 2017? (For your easy identification, we’ve marked what’s new in 2017 with the word New!) Here you go! Our list is organized by topic, as follows:

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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder under Section 504

OCR guidance clarifying the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with equal educational opportunity under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Date released | July 26, 2016

What’s included | Dear Colleague letter, a Know Your Rights fact sheet in several languages

Available in | English, Arabic, Spanish, and Vietnamese

Read abstract in the Hub and access all associated resources, at: 

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Behavior Supports for Students with Disabilities

Dear Colleague Letter on Supporting Behavior of Students with Disabilities

Date released | August 1, 2016

What’s included | Dear Colleague letter (16 pages, PDF, 493 kb)
2-page Summary for Stakeholders (2 pages, PDF, 605 kb)

Supporting materials available from CPIR 
Webinar: IDEA Behavioral Support and Discipline
Handout: On Supporting Behavior
Handout | Important Links Mentioned in Dear Colleague Letter (Word, 16 kb)

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Charter Schools

There are 2 resource packages from the Department on students with disabilities in charter schools. One was released in May 2014, and the other (listed first below) was released in December 2016.

2016 | Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools

Date released | December 28, 2016

What’s included
Dear Colleague letter (41 pages, PDF, 570 kb) entitled Frequently Asked Questions about the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools under Section 504

Dear Colleague letter (34 pages, PDF, 562 kb) entitled Frequently Asked Questions about the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools under IDEA

2-page fact sheet (2 pages, PDF, 100 kb) entitled Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools

Additional resources from the Department 
Webinar | Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools
Transcript of webinar (31 pages, PDF, 261 kb)
Presentation slides from webinar (45 slides, PDF, 459 kb)


2014 | Dear Colleague Letter: Charter Schools

Date released | May 14, 2014

Read abstract in the Hub and access the Dear Colleague letter, at:

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Children with Disabilities in Foster Care

Nonregulatory Guidance on Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care

Date released | June 23, 2016

Summary | Jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this guidance is intended to inform states, districts, and child welfare agencies on the new provisions of the ESSA for supporting children and youth in foster care.  The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the new law and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies for the well-being of those in foster care.

Access the guidance (28 pages, PDF, 494 kb), at:

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Children with Disabilities in Nursing Homes

Dear Colleague Letter on Children with Disabilities Residing in Nursing Homes

Date released | April 26, 2016

Access the Dear Colleague Letter (7 pages, PDF, 325 kb), at:

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Discipline (including Use of Restraint and Seclusion)

See also:  Behavior Supports for Students with Disabilities (above)

Ending Corporal Punishment | Open Letter from the Secretary of Education to Governors and Chief State School Officers

Date released | November 22, 2016

Summary | U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. issued this open letter urging state leaders to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice repeatedly linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students.

What’s included
The Secretary’s Letter (5 pages, PDF, 73 kb)

Corporal Punishment: Where? Data Map | The Department also released this new Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) data map that shows where more than 110,000 students across the country were subjected to corporal punishments in 2013–14.


Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities

Date released | December 28, 2016

Summary | Dear Colleague Letter explains the limits that federal civil rights laws impose on the use of restraint and seclusion by public elementary and secondary school districts.

What’s included
Dear Colleague Letter (24 pages PDF, 408 kb)

Fact Sheet (2 pages, PDF, 163 kb)

Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document from 2012 (45 pages, PDF, 1.6 MB)
The Department’s resource document (issued May 15, 2012) suggested best practices to prevent the use of restraint or seclusion, recommending that school districts never use physical restraint or seclusion for disciplinary purposes and never use mechanical restraint, and that trained school officials use physical restraint or seclusion only if a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.

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Disproportionality and Discrimination

There are multiple packages from the Department on discriminatory practices with respect to students with disabilities, including its publication of final regulations for addressing significant disproportionality. We’ve listed each separately below, in the order in which they were released in 2016 or 2017. 

See also | Discipline (above)


Dear Colleague Letter: Preventing Racial Discrimination in Special Education

Date | December 12, 2016

Context | The guidance addresses the unfortunate fact that the enforcement experience of the Office for Civil Rights “continues to confirm: (1) over-identification of students of color as having disabilities; (2) under-identification of students of color who do have disabilities; and (3) unlawful delays in evaluating students of color for disability and their need for special education services.”

What’s included 
Dear Colleague Letter (25 pages, PDF, 449 kb)

Fact Sheet (2 pages, PDF, 157 kb)


Final Regulations for IDEA on Promoting Equity and Reducing Significant Disproportionality and Discriminatory Practices in Special Education

Date released | December 19, 2016

Context |  The Department of Education sets forth final rules for: (a) Section 300.646 of IDEA (Disproportionality) and Section 300.647 (Determining significant disproportionality).

What’s available |  Final regulations in PDF (587 kb) and in HTML.  A 3-page summary of changes made from the proposed rule to the final rule (PDF, 411 kb).

Note! To read the final regulations, skip to the last 2 pages of the PDF file. Everything preceding those 2 final pages is a discussion of comments received by the Department on its proposed regulations and an analysis of the changes made in these final regulations.

Regulations in PDF

Regulations in HTML

Changes From Proposed Rule to Final Rule on Significant Disproportionality


Significant Disproportionality (Equity in IDEA) | Essential Questions and Answers

Date released | March 2017 | New!

Context |  This Q&A was released in follow-up to the December 19, 2016 publication of IDEA’s final regulations on disproportionality (81 Federal Register 92376) to address and answer the many questions that stakeholders may have about the final regulations, including the now-required use of a standard methodology for measuring disproportionality and risk ratios and thresholds. The 29-page Q&A also includes a review of “remedies” to findings of disproportionality [e.g., Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services (Comprehensive CEIS)] and a glossary of terms. Also released in concert with the Q&A was a Model State Timeline chart that outlines the different streams of work and timelines that states should consider as they implement the new rule.

Access the FAQ (PDF, 631 kb) |

Access the Model State Timeline (PDF, 324 kb) |

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Early Childhood Education

Several guidances and resource pages were released in 2016 and 2017 with respect to early childhood practices, policies, inclusion, and nondiscrimination. We’ve listed them below in the order in which they were released. 

ED-HHS Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades

Date released | May 5, 2016

Summary | The Departments recognize the critical role of family engagement in promoting children’s success in early childhood systems and programs. The policy statement reviews the research base and best practices that support effective family engagement in children’s learning, development, and wellness. It also identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices, provides recommendations to early childhood systems to implement effective family engagement, and highlights resources to build programmatic and family capacity to be effective partners.

What’s included
The policy statement is available online (25 pages, PDF, 443 kb), at:

There’s also an Executive Summary (5 pages, PDF, 215 kb), at:


Early Learning and Educational Technology Policy Brief

Date released | October 2016

Summary | The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a policy brief on the use of technology with early learners to help families and early educators implement active, meaningful, and socially interactive learning.

Access the Policy Brief (25 pages, PDF, 1.5 MB), at:


Early Learning in ESSA: Expanding Opportunities to Support Our Youngest Learners (Non-Regulatory Guidance)

Date released | October 2016

Summary | The U.S. Department of Education released this non-regulatory guidance to remind state and local decision-makers about the importance of investing in early learning. It highlights the opportunities available under ESSA to strengthen early education, and provides examples of how states and local communities can support young children’s success in school.

Access the guidance (37 pages, PDF, 1.1 MB), at:


Understanding the Confidentiality Requirements Applicable to IDEA Early Childhood Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

Date released |  October 2016

Access the FAQ guidance (15 pages, PDF, 284 kb) at:

See also | Webinar (held December 15, 2016): A Little Privacy Please? Safeguarding the Privacy of Young Children with Disabilities under IDEA and FERPA


Dear Colleague Letter: Preschool LRE

Date released | January 9, 2017 | New!

Context | Reaffirms the commitment of the U.S. Department of Education to inclusive preschool education programs for children with disabilities. Reiterates that the least restrictive environment (LRE) requirements of IDEA  are fully applicable to the placement of preschool children with disabilities. Includes additional information on the reporting of educational environments data for preschool children with disabilities and the use of IDEA Part B funds to provide special education and related services to preschool children with disabilities.

Access the Dear Colleague Letter (8 pages, PDF, 287 kb) at:

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Homeless Children

Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program (Non-Regulatory Guidance)

Date released | July 27, 2016

What’s included | Guidance letter (51 pages), Fact sheet (4 pages) called Supporting the Success of Homeless Children and Youths: A Fact Sheet and Tips

Read abstract in the Hub and access the guidance on homeless children, at:


Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness

Date released | October 31, 2016

Summary | This policy statement comes jointly from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Education (ED). The statement recommends ways early childhood and housing providers at the local and state levels can collaborate to better meet the needs of pregnant women and families with young children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Access the policy statement (39 pages, PDF, 994 kb), at:

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IEP Translation

Date released | June 14, 2016

Summary | This “Communication from OSEP” focuses on the Government’s Statement of Interest in R. v. The School District Philadelphia, a case addressing the translation of Individualized Education Program (IEP)s in accorance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.

Access OSEP’s Communication (PDF, 64 kb) |

Access the Government’s Statement of Interest (PDF, 190 kb) |

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Juvenile Justice

Toolkit: Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections

Date released | November 2016

Summary | This toolkit includes evidence- and research-based practices, tools, and resources that educators, families, facilities, and community agencies can use to better support and improve the long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile correctional facilities. The toolkit includes several resources that the Department released in 2014, including Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings and State Correctional Education Self-Assessment (SCES).

Access the toolkit online at:

See also: CPIR’s September 2016 webinar, Reaching and Serving Students with Disabilities in Juvenile Justice

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One Percent Cap on Student Alternate Assessment

Jointly issued by | Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Office of State Support (OSS)

Memo to State Assessment Directors, State Title I Directors, and State Special Education Directors

Date released | May 16, 2017  | New!

Summary | This memo addresses the requirements regarding the state-level 1% cap on the percentage of students who may be assessed with an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAS).

Access the memo online (PDF, 256 kb):

See also | Webinar and a brief on this subject held by the National Center of Education Outcomes (NCEO). Access both and a PDF of the webinar slideshow at:

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School Resource Officers

Dear Colleague Letter on the Use of School Resource Officers (SROs) in Schools

Date released | September 8, 2016

Summary | This letter expresses the Department’s increasing concern that school discipline is being administered by school resource officers (SROs), who are law-enforcement officers based in schools.

Access the DCL online:

See also | CPIR’s Brief for Parent Centers on School Resource Officers

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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary School

Date released |  December 2016

Summary | The resource guide provides a broad overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The guidance describes school districts’ nondiscrimination responsibilities, including obligations to provide educational services to students with disabilities. It also outlines the steps that parents can take to ensure that their children secure all of the services they are entitled to receive.

What’s included |  The guide is available online (52 pages, PDF, 651 kb)

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Stakeholder Engagement in ESSA

Dear Colleague Letter on Stakeholder Engagement During Implementation of ESSA

Date released | June 23, 2016

Summary | The purpose of this letter is to highlight the importance and utility of stakeholder engagement as States and local school districts transition to and, eventually, implement the ESSA, and to provide guidance, resources, and examples of stakeholder engagement for States and districts to consider.

What’s included | The letter is online in HTML format, at:

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Virtual schools

Dear Colleague Letter on Online and Virtual Schools and IDEA

Date released | August 5, 2016

Summary | This DCL reminds states to ensure that students with disabilities attending public virtual schools are getting the special education and supports  they deserve. The guidance focuses on specific requirements in the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for public virtual schools.

Access the “Virtual Schools” guidance (6 pages, PDF, 336 kb), at:–virtual-schools–08-05-2016.pdf

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SOURCE ARTICLE: Center for Parent Information and Resources