The Department of Education, led by the uniquely unqualified Betsy DeVos, quietly repealed upwards of 70 documents that detailed rights for students with disabilities at the beginning of October, the Washington Post reported.
According to the paper, a majority of the documents identified and clearly explained the rights of people with disabilities in public schools. However, some of the documents detailed how schools could spend federal special education funds and how parents could legally advocate for children with disabilities.
On Friday, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services acknowledged the repeal in a newsletter, saying 72 “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective” guidelines had been rescinded—63 from the Office of Special Education Programs and nine from the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
A brief scroll through the list of documents repealed by the Education Department certainly reveals a theme. Here’s a handful of their titles: “Guidance on Procedural Safeguards and Due Process Procedures for Parents and Children with Disabilities;” “Including Students with Disabilities in all Educational Reform Activities;” and lastly “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting From Federal Financial Assistance.”
When President Trump took office in January, he instructed federal agencies to review and repeal as many “unnecessary regulatory burdens” as possible. DeVos has clearly heeded his demands. Since her nomination was confirmed, the Amway Queen has rolled back protections for trans students and, most recently, President Obama’s campus sexual assault rules.
In a statement provided to The Post, Rep. Robert Scott, a Democrat representing Virginia’s third district, criticized the guidelines’ repeal as “the latest in a series of disturbing actions taken by the Trump Administration to undermine civil rights for vulnerable Americans.” The regulations would still be enforced, Scott added, but without the clarification outlined by the documents.
It’s still unclear how the guidelines’ repeal will directly affect students with disabilities and advocates are still reviewing what exactly was rescinded (some of the rules have been on the books since as far back as 1980). However if DeVos’ track record as Education Secretary informs her latest decision, the rescinded guidelines will unilaterally threaten the rights of students whose vulnerabilities necessitate more protections.