Our Thanks to AdvocacyDenver for putting this action alert together
April 21, 2020, Letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Senators Christopher S. Murphy and Bill Cassidy, M.D. stated:
We write to you regarding the need for clear guidance to protect the needs of students with disabilities during and following nationwide school closures. It is essential that the rights of students with disabilities be upheld throughout this crisis . . . .
Understanding the potential need for certain, temporary flexibilities, Congress included a requirement in the CARES Act that the Department prepare a report detailing any recommended waivers to requirements under federal education laws during the COVID-19 National Emergency. While this crisis has fundamentally changed how we must think about the provision of education, it is critical that we remain steadfast in our commitment to all children – especially those with disabilities. To this effort, Congress and the Department must maintain their roles in ensuring accountability and oversight regarding the progress of students with disabilities. We believe any potential flexibilities included in the report concerning the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must be narrow, targeted, temporary, and dedicated to the full provision of educational services for every student with a disability that is reasonably possible. While some extension and flexibility in timelines is warranted, requirements to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), to engage parents in the process, and to ensure due process rights to parents must remain. We do not believe this requires broad flexibilities that would temporarily rollback rights for these students and their families. No matter the circumstance, we believe these core rights of IDEA must be upheld and reinforced.
We, in Congress, must also commit to providing schools with the funding necessary to carry out the requirements of IDEA through closures and once schools reopen. As the Department considers any recommendations to Congress for additional flexibility with regards to IDEA, please know that we are committed to seeking necessary, targeted supplemental funding for IDEA in the next Coronavirus stimulus package.
Tell the Senate and Congress:
- Secretary DeVos has sufficient flexibility to help states and districts under IDEA and Section 504 during this challenging time.
- Senate and Congress Must Not allow any waivers under IDEA or Section 504.
- Congress MUST provide states with 12.5 billion in IDEA funding to: ensure district/school leaders, teachers, students and families have tools for teaching and learning online and for meeting virtually; to provide funding to pay for telehealth related services; to promote collaborative approaches to adapting and modifying student support; and to find solutions to compensate for gaps in service and support as a result of the outbreak and school closures.
CD 2 Joe Neguse https://neguse.house.gov/contact