Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Breaking: US Department of Education Issues Guidance on How Schools Should Address Sexual Violence

Seal of the United States Department of Education
Seal of the United States Department of Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today the United States Department of Education issued guidance to school officials on how they should respond to sexual violence and other sex discrimination. The guidance focuses primarily upon Title IX, but it impacts upon several other statutes.You can read the DOE guidance here.

Although this issue is much broader than just a special ed issue, the Q & A document does address students with disabilities in part. Question B-3 is particularly relevant and the question and answer are set forth below:

B-3. What issues may arise with respect to students with disabilities who experience sexual 

Answer: When students with disabilities experience sexual violence, federal civil rights 
laws other than Title IX may also be relevant to a school’s responsibility to investigate and 
address such incidents.   Certain students require additional assistance and support. For 
example, students with intellectual disabilities may need additional help in learning about 
sexual violence, including a school’s sexual violence education and prevention programs, 
what constitutes sexual violence and how students can report incidents of sexual 
violence. In addition, students with disabilities who experience sexual violence may 
require additional services and supports, including psychological services and counseling 
services. Postsecondary students who need these additional services and supports can 
seek assistance from the institution’s disability resource office. 

A student who has not been previously determined to have a disability may, as a result of 
experiencing sexual violence, develop a mental health-related disability that could cause 
the student to need special education and related services. At the elementary and 
secondary education level, this may trigger a school’s child find obligations under IDEA 
and the evaluation and placement requirements under Section 504, which together 
require a school to evaluate a student suspected of having a disability to determine if he 
or she has a disability that requires special education or related aids and services.

A school must also ensure that any school reporting forms, information, or training about 
sexual violence be provided in a manner that is accessible to students and employees with 
disabilities, for example, by providing electronically-accessible versions of paper forms to 
individuals with print disabilities, or by providing a sign language interpreter to a deaf 
individual attending a training. See question J-4 for more detailed information on student 

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