IDEA Rights Violation Following DLC Investigation

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Colorado Department of Education Orders Department of Corrections to Improve Educational Services for Disabled Students

Decision Requires Individual and Systemic Remedies, including Comprehensive Audit by the Colorado Department of Education

[Denver, CO] In November 2021, Disability Law Colorado (DLC) filed a state complaint against the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) on behalf of a twenty-one-year-old student with PTSD and a serious emotional disability. The complaint filed with the Colorado Department of Education alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA). Specifically, DLC alleged that DOC failed to properly identify the student under the IDEA, failed to properly develop and implement an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student, and denied the student access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

On January 10, 2022, CDE issued a formal decision agreeing that DOC is violating the law. CDE ordered DOC to ensure staff training regarding requirements of the IDEA and ECEA. It also requires that the individual student on whose behalf the complaint was filed undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine what services are needed to make up for his lost education in addition to specific social emotional services ordered by the decision. Finally, over the next year, CDE will conduct an audit with DOC and “CDE will collaborate with DOC to revise relevant policy, procedure, and practice and to provide technical assistance, professional development, and resources to ensure IDEA eligible students in DOC receive services in accordance with IDEA.”

“We are pleased with this decision and believe the changes ordered by CDE will lead to long-term improvements within DOC, not just for our client, but for all disabled individuals within DOC who should receive educational services under the IDEA now and in the future,” said Emily Harvey, DLC’s Education Team Leader. “We also appreciate the acknowledgement by DOC that ‘it needs guidance from CDE regarding special education and IDEA compliance,’ as well as CDE’s commitment to providing that guidance.”

The decision includes various deadlines for each remedy. Of note, CDE’s audit of DOC must be conducted by December 31, 2022.

For more information about this story contact: Emily Harvey, | (303) 722-0300


About Disability Law Colorado: Disability Law Colorado, Colorado’s Protection & Advocacy System, works to protect and improve the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities and older people by embracing opportunities to work on ground-breaking issues that change systems and improve communities. To learn more, visit:

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