Our Children Need Us to Act!
Protect Children's Rights under IDEA and Section 504 (April 6, 2020)
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The parents, teachers, related services providers, advocates, and attorneys who subscribe to The Special Ed Advocate are unique in the diverse ways you represent the needs and interests of children with disabilities and their families.
Our children need us to act now.
And you need to know about a new issue that may have serious negative impacts on our childrens lives and their rights under the IDEA and and Section 504.
On Friday, we received an Alert from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) about an alarming situation.
Congress wrote the massive COVID-19 Relief Act (CARES Act) in record-breaking time. The law directs the Secretary of Education (Betsy DeVos) to report to Congress about waivers of rights under the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) within 30 days.
What does this mean?
State Directors of Special Education and Special Education Administrators want the Secretary to waive timelines for initial evaluations, annual IEP reviews, complaints, and transition from Early Intervention to K-12 special education.
This waiver or "pause" would run from the date the school closed (generally March 2020) until 45 days school "in person days" after schools reopen (November or December 2020). Forty-five school days is 25 percent of the school year. When you add 45 "in person days" to the months children are losing this school year, the consequences are severe.
Can the Secretary of Education waive the rights and protections in federal special education laws?
We believe the answer is NO. Congress wrote these laws. Only Congress can change the laws and waive protections under the IDEA and Section 504.
But Secretary DeVos is developing her recommendations now. These recommendations may include waivers for IDEA and Section 504.
Why Waivers are not necessary
The IDEA allows parents and schools to hold IEP meetings by telephone or video conference call. IDEA also allows the child's IEP team to amend the IEP without a live meeting.
COPAA reports that states are holding virtual IEP meetings now. When schools are creative and begin using technology that's available today, there is no need to waive provisions designed to protect children with disabilities because schools closed.
Your Senators and Member of Congress need to hear from you. Please send a letter or email, or call your Senators and your Representative to let them know that you oppose waivers to the timelines in the IDEA and that waivers are not necessary.
Contact Info for Your Senators is here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Contact Info for Your House Member is here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Contact Info for Your Governor is here: https://www.usa.gov/state-governor
Contract Info for Your State Legislators is here: https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites
On behalf of our children, thank you!