U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce committee, released the following statement today in response to the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services "Dear Colleague" guidance to ensure that students with disabilities have access to educational opportunities free from bullying and harassment as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
"I thank the department for making clear that bullying of any student, including students with disabilities, will not be tolerated in our schools," said Rep. Miller. "Schools must be safe places for all students to learn without fear of being bullied or attacked. Today's guidance in no uncertain terms reminds us that violence or harassment of any kind has no place in our schools. It also reminds us that we must continue our efforts to ensure that our most vulnerable students reach their full academic potential, free from the detrimental effects of bullying and harassment. That's why the Democratic approach to rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ensures students are safe, healthy, and free from bullying at school so that they can focus on learning. I believe these efforts must continue. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Department of Education to address the serious problem that bullying presents to all students, including students with disabilities."
Research has shown that students with disabilities are disproportionally affected by bullying. Today's guidance is an important step forward in ensuring that all students, including students with disabilities, have equal access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment, as outlined in IDEA. The guidance issued by the Department of Education identifies key principles that states, schools, teachers and parents should consider to prevent bullying and ensure that a student with a disability receives an appropriate education.