James H. Wendorf Applauds the U.S. Department of Education’s Efforts to Reduce Disparities in Special Education


February 24, 2016

James H. Wendorf Applauds the U.S. Department of Education’s
Efforts to  Reduce Disparities in Special Education

Washington, DC – James H. Wendorf, Executive Director Emeritus of the National Center for Learning Disabilities has released the following statement:

“On behalf of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues, I applaud the U.S. Department of Education for taking a bold step to curb the overrepresentation and disparate treatment of students of color in special education, a chronic challenge in our nation’s schools.

To put it plainly, the statistics are grim. For years, data have shown that students of color are enrolled in special education at higher rates and face harsher discipline practices than their peers. As a parent-led organization, NCLD supports a national effort to confront and address the root causes for these alarming facts:

  • In more than half of all states, African American and Hispanic students are disproportionately identified as having a specific learning disability.
  • Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than students without disabilities.
  • 50% of young adults with learning disabilities have faced disciplinary action in school and have reported having some type of involvement with the criminal justice system within eight years of leaving school. One in three have been arrested.

Our nation’s children are relying on us to reverse these trends.  We can and must support frameworks like multi-tier systems of support (MTSS), which allow schools to take a proactive approach and identify learning and behavior issues early, thereby limiting later challenges.

The U.S. Department of Education’s effort to confront disparities in the identification, placement, and discipline of students of color with disabilities, known as ‘significant disproportionality’ in the law, is commendable.  NCLD looks forward to working with the Department as the regulatory process unfolds.”