|Home > News > The Special Ed Advocate News November 23, 1999|
IDEA Compliance Report Delayed
November 20, 1999
WASHINGTON -- The parents, teachers and advocacy groups that have been eagerly awaiting the National Council on Disability's full report on state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will have to wait a couple more months. The report, which was first scheduled for release in mid-October, then pushed back to mid-November, is now expected to be available the last week of January or early February, NCD spokesman Mark Quigley said Thursday. The report details the ways in which all 50 states and the U.S. territories fail to meet the law's key requirements for providing free, appropriate public education for students with disabilities.
The NCD, an independent council appointed by the federal government to oversee disability issues in the schools, the workplace and other public areas, released preliminary results of its study in September. At that time, the council said 90 percent of states and territories fail to adequately supervise local education agencies' education of students with disabilities, and 88 percent do not comply with requirements to provide services to assist a student's transition from school to post-education activities. The study is based on the U.S. Department of Education's monitoring of state compliance with IDEA from 1994 to 1998.
The final report is being held back for two reasons, Quigley said. First, the council has given the U.S. Department of Education an opportunity to review the report and suggest revisions before the final version is released. The council affords this courtesy to every agency it evaluates, he said, noting the composition of the final report followed the same formula the council used for reviewing the air transport industry for compliance with the American Disabilities Act.
When releasing its preliminary IDEA findings, the NCD roundly criticized the Department of Education for its failure to hold states accountable and its failure to withhold federal funds from states that do not comply. But Quigley said the department's opportunity to review the final report does not necessarily mean those criticisms will be toned down.
"The department can make suggestions. Whether we go with them or not will be our call, and it'll be the final call," he said.
The second reason for the delay is political. The NCD believes it can make the biggest impact by releasing its full IDEA study when Congress is in session, rather than pass the document around to staffers while the members are still in their home districts for the holiday break, Quigley said. The NCD will hold a news conference to release its findings, with members of the disability community present to "humanize" some of the issues the report raises, he said. In addition, the council is angling for a hearing on the problem of noncompliance and has contacted staffers of Congressional offices to lobby for release of the study at such a hearing.
Meanwhile, the department of education continues to monitor states for compliance with the law. The agency's Office of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning has posted monitoring reports for 27 states and territories on its Internet site, and more are in the works, a department staffer said. The department has not posted reports for all of the states and territories because many are in the process of being written now, the staffer said. Monitoring is done on a five-year cycle, so any reports that are older than that period have not been put online, in anticipation of the more updated reports due out soon.
Some reports are also fairly old because the department suspended its monitoring operations for one year to revise its implementation strategy. Only three state reports- California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – have been posted so far this year, and three others - Mississippi, Oregon and the Virgin Islands -- were posted last year. The rest are more than two years old. At least one state -- North Dakota -- voluntarily posted the department's monitoring report on its special education division web site, even though the federal site does not yet list it.