Administration tells schools: Don’t let students with disabilities be bullied

“Students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by bullying,” officials from the department’s special education office wrote in a letter to educators.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with disabilities are entitled to a “free appropriate public education.”

Schools that allow their students to be bullied would be denying them that education and in violation of the law.

When kids with disabilities are bullied, educators and staff should get together to see whether a change needs to be made to the student’s education plan, the department said in its guidance.

The department also told schools that they may be in violation of the law if they move bullied students to a “protected” space that is more restricted.

“This guidance is a significant step forward for students facing bullying,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, in a statement distributed by the Education Department. “School districts have an obligation to address the source of the problem –the stigma and prejudice that drives bullying behavior.”