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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 1, 2000

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ISSN: 1538-3202


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1. New! Download IDEA Compliance Report at Wrightslaw!

As many of you know, parents of children with disabilities have been hampered by two factors: isolation and lack of information.

At Wrightslaw, we are working to remedy these problems. We believe that if parents have accurate information about their rights and responsibilities and know that they are not alone, they will join together and force the system to change. 

On January 26, we advised newsletter subscribers that the National Council on Disability (NCD) would soon release the IDEA COMPLIANCE REPORT.

The report is called "BACK TO SCHOOL ON CIVIL RIGHTS: ADVANCING THE FEDERAL COMMITMENT TO LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND." This is a very detailed report about compliance with IDEA in the 25 years since the law was enacted.

We spent most of this weekend reading the IDEA Compliance Report. Before we finished, we knew we had to make this report available to parents, advocates and attorneys. 

Although many of the findings in this Report are distressing, they wonít come as a shock to parents who have been dealing with recalcitrant school districts. 

The NCD Report includes an excellent discussion of IDEA, including detailed information about rights under the law (FAPE, LRE, IEP, procedural safeguards, etc). 

The Report points out that IDEA is unusual because it attempts to address two different problems: IDEA is a civil rights law AND a funding statute. 

Enforcement of the law is supposed to take place at the state, not federal, level. Significant problems arise because state Departments of Education DO NOT enforce the law. 

As you will see in this Report, states that enforce the law fare no better than states that refuse to enforce the law. There are no consequences for refusing to enforce or comply with the law. Even when states refuse to comply with the law and provide the U. S. Department of Education with false "assurances," funding continues -- and increases! 

You will learn that the U. S. Dept of Education relies on PARENTS to enforce the law by lawsuits. (The Compliance Report discusses the impact this "policy" has on families that are severely stressed by the demands of raising a child with a disability.)

Because this Report is large, we have broken it into 13 files. We will upload these files onto the Wrightslaw site over the next few days. 

* PLAN OF ACTION * 

Download each file, including the Table of Contents (TOC), then print.

To facilitate the learning process, we suggest that you skim the Report for an overview, then read the Report with highlighter in hand. After you read the Report, go back and read it again. 

If you want to enhance your retention of the material, print out a clean copy and read the Report a third time, highlighter in hand, as though you were reading it for the first time. 

By using these techniques, youíll find that new information jumps out at you -- information that you didnít notice the first time. 

* LINKS * 

* TABLE OF CONTENTS

The TOC gives you an overview of the full IDEA COMPLIANCE REPORT that is being posted on the Wrightslaw site. The TOC give you a sense of whatís coming, the historical basis of the law, and will help you analyze change over time. 

After you download the full Report, you can use the TOC links to navigate around the Report

BOOKMARK the TOC page!

If you come back often, youíll see the "links" on this page fill in as we add new files! When we finish, youíll have several pages of links that will help you navigate around the IDEA Compliance Report.

* INTRODUCTION

The Introduction is your "Overview" of the Report. This section includes information about the background and purpose of the Report. Youíll learn how the Report is structured and get a brief overview of each of the 8 main sections. 

Youíll also learn about enforcement research perspectives and how information is collected and analyzed by researchers.

* PART I: THE LAW, THE COMPLIANCE / ENFORCEMENT SCHEME, AND THE CONTEXT

"Part I, ĎThe Law, the Compliance / Enforcement Scheme, and the Contextí describes the development of the original special education law, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and its evolution over the past 25 years. 

Youíll learn about the past and current need for the special education law and its regulations, the requirements of the law, and issues raised by the 1997 reauthorization. 

Youíll read a summary of the statutory framework for IDEA enforcement, a description of the compliance/enforcement scheme for IDEA, and how the federal enforcement mechanism is organized, including the Department of Education's relationship with the Department of Justice. 

Youíll learn about the role of parent advocacy in driving enforcement over the last two decades. Youíll get a brief overview of the U. S. Department of Educationís enforcement activities -- or lack of enforcement -- along with findings and recommendations."


2. Spotlight on NCD

You know that the IDEA Compliance Report was prepared by NCD. But who -- or what -- is NCD? 

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency led by 15 members appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Overall, the purpose of NCD is to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

In 1995, NCD published another report about IDEA called "Improving the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Making Schools Work for All of America's Children." You can download a copy of the 1995 Report at 

http://www.ncd.gov/publications/95school.html

One of the NCD mandates is "Making recommendations to the President, Congress, the Secretary of Education, the Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, and other officials of federal agencies, respecting ways to better promote equal opportunity, economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society for Americans with disabilities. (Source: http://www.ncd.gov/mandate.html)

The NCD "Publications" Page is an excellent source of information 

http://www.ncd.gov/publications/publications.html

You can learn more about the National Council on Disabilities by visiting their web site at 

http://www.ncd.gov/


3. Message to Advocates

Advocates need to understand the system before they can change it. And this system needs to be changed!

If you teach a course about special education advocacy, use the IDEA Compliance Report in your course. Get your students to download the Compliance Report from Wrightslaw -- itís FREE! 

And donít forget to use the ADVOCACY CHALLENGE DISCOUNT PROGRAM.

The Advocacy Challenge Discount Program provides high-quality, reasonably-priced, accurate information about the law to people who teach advocacy classes OR who provide other forms of advocacy and/or training. Advocacy trainers may order Wrightslaw: Special Education Law at half price, in units of 20 books. 

For more information about the Advocacy Challenge Program


4. Update on the Wrightslaw Free Book Offer

Several people have written to say that their bookstores say they can't get the book unless they order directly from the publisher (which they say will take several weeks). Not true. 

Tell your bookstore to BACK ORDER the book. 

THE INSIDE STORY: Retail bookstores get most their books from two wholesalers: Ingram and Baker & Taylor. 

WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW is available at the Ingram warehouses in La Verge Tennessee and Roseburg Oregon and from 4 Baker & Taylor warehouses (in Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, Nevada). 

BUT -- if your bookstore doesn't BACK ORDER the book, you'll go to the back of the line. 

Why? 

Ingram and Baker & Taylor didnít order enough books to satisfy the demand created by the FREE BOOK OFFER. So bookstores that BACK ORDER the book from the wholesalers will get the book first! 

DON'T WAIT! Call your retail bookstore today! If they say they can't get the book, tell them to BACK ORDER the book from Ingram (La Verge TN or Roseburg OR) or Baker & Taylor (in Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, Nevada)!

Click the following link for a printer-friendly copy of the FREE BOOKS OFFER.

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