The U.S Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Indiana Department of Education after receiving “disturbing” reports regarding the poor quality of education being provided to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This investigation is commencing right at the same time that new leadership is being ushered in at Indiana’s Department of Education.
The Office for Civil Rights has been notified of numerous parent complaints that their children with disabilities have been “forced by local school districts into virtual learning programs that were not individualized to meet those students’ unique needs” and that instead “the schools have used ‘one size fits all’ remote learning programs.”
Federal laws states that students with special needs are entitled to free and public education. The Office of Civil Rights alleges that Indiana education officials have denied these children equal access to education.
The impending investigation of the Indiana Department of Education will determine if the department has “excluded qualified persons with disabilities from participation in, deny them the benefits of, or otherwise subject them to discrimination under any program or activity.”
Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner released the following statement in response to the investigation:
“I have asked my team for a full briefing on all complaints filed prior to my arrival in this office on Monday, January 11, and pledge to provide every available support to help our districts and schools meet the needs of Indiana’s special education students. As we enter into day four of our administration, I want to assure you I take very seriously the department’s responsibility to support our schools, students and families, especially during these unprecedented times, and I am committed to working with my local, state and federal colleagues to both understand and address these concerns.”