Nonprofit Organization Sues Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for Delaying Regulation That Would Help Disabled Children

On July 12, nonprofit organization Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of DC against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos alleging that the Secretary acted unlawfully in issuing a Delay Regulation that would postpone implementation of a regulation intended to help black and Latino children with disabilities. Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to identify students with disabilities and place them in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs. However, in practice, IDEA has consistently faced challenges being implemented evenhandedly—with students of color being disproportionately affected. The Department of Education implemented new regulations effective January 18, 2017, that were intended to address this disparity, and states were required to be in compliance by July 1, 2018—18 months after the effective date. On July 3, the Department issued its Delay Regulation, which would delay the compliance requirement for two more years.

In its complaint COPAA alleges that the Secretary’s decision is “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion” and “otherwise not in accordance with law” because it failed to provide a reasonable explanation for reaching a different conclusion from that which was supported by arguments and facts, did not consider plausible alternatives, and did not consider the significant costs of delaying implementation.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the Secretary’s Delay Regulation unlawful, to vacate and set it aside, and to enjoin the Department of Education from implementing the Delay Regulation.

COPAA is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and enforce the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.

Additional Reading

Regulation postponed two years to ensure effective implementation, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, July 3, 2018

DeVos Sued Over Decision to Delay Rule for Disabled Kids, Courthouse News Service, July 12, 2018

Complaint in Counsel of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. v. DeVos, No. 1:18-cv-01636 via Justia Dockets