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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 10, 2000

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ISSN: 1538-3202


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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, effective educational methods, and Internet links. Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. 

1. Alert! Full IDEA Compliance Report Now Available 

In recent WRIGHTSLAW Alerts and newsletters, we advised subscribers about the National Council of Disabilityís indictment of the State and Federal departments of education. 

The IDEA Compliance Report established that the Federal Government has not enforced IDEA, but has relied on parents to bear this burden. 

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. 


2. Responsibility V. Accountability 

ACCOUNTABLE: Answerable, being required to answer for one's actions.

RESPONSIBILITY: The sense in which one is responsible for achieving (or maintaining) a good result in some matter. The idea is that one is entrusted with achieving or maintaining this outcome, and expected to both have relevant knowledge and skills, and to make a conscientious effort.

As we read this Report, several questions came to mind:

Where is President Harry ("The Buck Stops Here") Truman when you need him?

When the Feds don't require the States to obey the law, how can they expect States to require local school districts to obey the law? 

When the Feds reward States that refuse to comply with IDEA by increasing their funding, isnít it unrealistic to expect States to comply with the law? 


3. Six Million Children

We donít believe the IDEA COMPLIANCE REPORT will be filed away and forgotten. This Report helps parents and advocates understand that "the system" they relied on to protect their children is broken and must be fixed. 

Nearly six million children with disabilities receive special education. 

These children have parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends who are deeply concerned about them and their futures. These "stakeholders" want the system to work.

These children are also at the center of a huge network of service providers -- regular and special education teachers, therapists, psychologists and educational diagnosticians, medical specialists, mental health professionals, advocates, etc. These service providers and helping professionals are deeply concerned about the children and want the system to work. 

At Wrightslaw, we believe that when stakeholders and advocates understand the problems identified in this Report, you'll force the system to change. 


4. The"Ripple Effect"

Expect that the IDEA COMPLIANCE REPORT will have a "ripple effect." We expect the Report will act as a catalyst for parents and advocates. 

The Report will give politicians an opportunity to weigh in on special education . . . 

On February 8, the LA Times reported that Representative Matthew Martinez (D-Monterey Park) has introduced legislation that would require the federal government to increase special education funding by $2 billion a year. This would translate into an additional $116 million a year for the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Read the LA Times article 

Will money solve these problems, in which 50 states have persistently refused to comply with the law? During the 25 years since IDEA was enacted, the federal government has sent billions to states. Not one state has complied with the law.

The IDEA Compliance Report includes recommendations about how to improve the system. If you are a special ed advocate, you will want to review their 
recommendations carefully. (See links below)


5. Wrightslaw Links 

The Index to the IDEA COMPLIANCE REPORT that includes hundreds of links to sections of the Report. 

PART IV of the Report that discusses the dismal "National Compliance Picture Over Time"

PART V contains a table of "IDEA Litigation Challenging State Noncompliance." This Part discusses litigation brought in ILLINOIS, TEXAS and CALIFORNIA, and a lays out a PLAN for effective monitoring systems. This section will be of interest to all advocates and advocacy organizations. 

PART VI discusses "The Role of the Department of Justice." This section includes a list of IDEA litigation in which the Department of Justice has participated, from Rowley (1982) to Carter (1993) to Cedar Rapids (1999). 

NCD recommends that Congress amend IDEA to provide the DOJ with independent authority to investigate and litigate against school districts and/or states where there is a pattern and practice of violations against IDEA. 

PART VII, "Improving Public Awareness," describes the mission and activities of various federal agencies (OSEP, OCR, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and Department of Health and Human Services -- Administration on Developmental Disabilities). 

PART VIII is "Summary and Conclusions"

For a list of ALL FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS, get "Consolidated List of Findings and Recommendations" 

ENDNOTES contains a 21 page bibliography of information about special education legal and advocacy information.

To search the Report for specific information about your state, use our Search Tips

EARLIER LINKS:

PART II is where you find out what other parents are saying about IDEA Compliance -- or lack of compliance! "Grassroots Perspectives"

Part III A is where youíll find most of the information about individual states. Part III B

"Analysis of Six States" offers a more detailed analysis of these states -- 

* CALIFORNIA *
* ILLINOIS *

* NEW YORK *

* OREGON *

* TEXAS *

* VERMONT *

and is contained in Part III of the Report

SEARCH TIPS: To search the Report for specific information about your state, use our Search Tips


6. Get State By State Reports At Special Ed News Site

Youíll find a complete state-by-state breakdown of the Compliance Report at the Special Ed News

How did your state fare? Find answers to your questions


7. News! Guest Column Coming soon

We are preparing a new feature for THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE -- a guest column written by attorneys and advocates. 

Our first guest is Wayne Steedman, attorney from Maryland. Recently, Mr. Steedman attended a workshop about "How to Develop Defensible Autism Programs." This workshop was sponsored by LRP Publications and generated considerable controversy. 

Mr. Steedman went behind "enemy lines" to bring us this report. In our first Guest Column, heíll tell you what he learned on his "Discovery Mission." Stay tuned!

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