The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools signed a letter written by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force in response to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
The Department asked for public comment on how this proposed rule affects students with disabilities. Title IX protects all students from sexual harassment, including sexual assault, and provides due process in administrative proceedings. Title IX applies to institutions that receive federal financial assistance from the Department, including state and local educational agencies (hereinafter referred to as “recipients”). These agencies include approximately 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 postsecondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. Also included are vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories and possessions of the United States.
Students with disabilities involved in sexual harassment, including sexual assault, face additional challenges and risks. This proposed rule makes schools and institutions of higher education drastically less safe for all students and fails to address known risk factors for students with disabilities who are survivors and alleged perpetrators of sexual violence.
For the three reasons below, we ask that the Department immediately withdraw this NPRM and instead focus its energies on vigorously enforcing the Title IX requirements that the Department has relied on for decades, to ensure that schools promptly and effectively respond to sexual harassment.
The proposed rule fails to take into account the reality of sexual harassment, including assault, and the different experiences, challenges, and needs of students with disabilities in elementary and secondary schools and in post-secondary institutions.
The proposed rules would encourage or require schools to ignore students with disabilities who report sexual harassment.
The proposed rules fail to take into account issues related to the needs of students and employees with disabilities when they participate in a Title IX proceeding.