Statement by Mimi Corcoran on the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance to Schools on Supporting Behavioral Needs of Students with Disabilities


August 4, 2016

Contact: Lindsay Jones, Vice President, Chief Policy & Advocacy Officer


Statement by Mimi Corcoran, President and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities on the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance to Schools on Supporting Behavioral Needs of Students with Disabilities

“Today, the U.S. Department of Education took a bold step on behalf of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues—many of whom have identified learning disabilities or ADHD—by issuing guidance that clarifies the role of schools in supporting the behavioral needs of students with disabilities.

Too often, addressing the behavioral needs of children comes second to addressing academics, when the reality is that both must be addressed simultaneously.  When we focus on behavior and academics at the same time, we provide students with learning and attention issues the opportunity to thrive in school.

National data collected by the Office of Civil Rights confirms the urgency of this issue:

  • Students with disabilities (11%) are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as students without disabilities (5%).
  • One out of four African American boys  with disabilities (served by IDEA)—and nearly one in five African American girls with disabilities—receives an out-of-school suspension.

Research tells us that disciplinary removals from school can have a lasting detrimental impact on students, often resulting in lower rates of high school graduation and decreased academic achievement.   Today’s guidance reminds schools of their legal responsibility to consider the behavioral needs of and provide necessary interventions to children with disabilities as they develop and implement each child’s individualized education program (IEP).

Importantly, the Department’s letter also provides examples of evidence-based behavioral supports, such as positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), which provide students with the support they need to prevent unnecessary disciplinary removals and increase their time in the classroom.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities is committed to working with all stakeholders—including families, schools and policymakers—to implement this guidance.”


The mission of NCLD is to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 children and adults nationwide with learning and attention issues—by empowering parents and young adults, transforming schools and advocating for equal rights and opportunities. We’re working to create a society in which every individual possesses the academic, social and emotional skills needed to succeed in school, at work and in life.