Attorney Heather J. Hulit published an article in the Legal Intelligencer arguing that there is a dual problem with the identification of minority students for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Policymakers have long recognized that minority students are inappropriately over-represented in special education, a problem known as “disproportionality” that the IDEA requires states to monitor and address. But Ms. Hulit argues that there is a less appreciated side to this problem. Due to the long shadow of systemic racism in the United States, minority students are also exposed to environmental risk factors at disproportionate rates that influence their health and the need for supports in school. In fact, compared to white peers demonstrating some of the same red flags that might trigger identification as a child with special needs, Black children are significantly less likely to be classified as such. This generates another form of disproportionality: the under-identification of Black children as students eligible for special education. She argues that both of these patterns suggest the need to confront systemic racism in the United States and implement universal screening for children with special needs.
The Legal Intelligencer is Pennsylvania’s premier publication for legal news. Attorneys at Berney & Sang publish regularly in the Intelligencer about education and the law.
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