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Education Dean: Report Shows Gap in Programs for Young Children With Disabilities

Image Donald Easton-Brooks Donald Easton-Brooks, dean of the USD School of Education.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- South Dakota meets all requirements for helping students with disabilities who are 3-21 years old but lags in its services for infants and toddlers, a U.S. Department of Education report found.

The 2016 Determination Letters on State Implementation of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was released this month. It requires each state to develop a performance plan and annual performance report that evaluates the state’s efforts.

Donald Easton-Brooks, dean of the University South Dakota School of Education, said it shows the South Dakota must develop better systems for children from birth to age 2. “This is a huge wake-up call for the state. As we delay in responding to the needs of our young children and families, we put pressure on state and community systems. This includes, schools, social service agencies, the medical/health field and taxpayers,” he said.

South Dakota is listed in the 2016 report among the states that meet the requirements of the act for students with disabilities from age 3 to 21.

But for the second consecutive year, South Dakota is also among those listed as a state that “needs assistance” with infants and toddlers. According to the report, that means the Department of Education must take one or more enforcement actions, which can include requiring the state to receive technical assistance, designate the state as a high-risk grantee or direct the use of state set-aside funds to the area(s) where the state needs assistance.


USD's School of Education is transformative in preparing students both inside and outside the classroom. Its research- and practitioner-based programs train future educators, counselors, leaders, fitness and sport-related professionals for successful careers. The school focuses on a comprehensive learning experience, lifelong learning and developing professionals grounded in best practice. The school’s divisions include counseling and psychology, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, kinesiology and sport management, and teacher residency and education.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News