The Brown decision laid the foundation for accountability provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1997 Education Act (2004) that require reporting of overrepresentation of students of color in special education. This article examines the issues surrounding this equity-focused legal reform that prioritized disproportionate representation. Drawing from interdisciplinary theories that target socio-historical and cultural underpinnings of power in a racially stratified society, we present a critique of federal policy implementation, with a particular focus on the lack of federal definitions and methods of reporting disproportionality. Using IDEA state compliance reports, we review states' definitions of “significant” disproportionality and methods of disproportionality calculations. We posit that federal compliance reporting on disproportionality limits meaningful approaches to addressing the inequities inherent in school systems.

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