Last month the Department of Education released a letter to remind our nation’s schools of their responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities are not subjected to bullying. Education officials noted a troubling trend over the past few years of increasing complaints related to bullying of kids with disabilities.

Schools are obligated under federal law to step in immediately when bullying of a student with a disability is suspected, act to halt attacks, and prevent any recurrences. These protections are in place whether a student qualifies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Any bullying of a student with a disability may be considered a denial of a student’s right to a free and appropriate public education, and therefore must be remedied.

Along with the letter that went out to educators, the Department of Education also issued a fact sheet for parents clarifying what they should expect from their schools.