Education – Study Shows Students with Intellectual Disability Have Low Rates of Inclusion

A study soon to be published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities shows that students with intellectual disability are still rarely educated with students without disabilities. The study examined placement trends for students with intellectual disability between ages 6 and 21 between 1976 and 2014. Over this time period, between 55 and 73 percent of students with intellectual disability were in segregated settings for all or most of the day. In 2014, only 17 percent of students with intellectual disability spent 80 percent or more of the school day in the general education classroom. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires students with disabilities be educated alongside students without disabilities to the “maximum extent appropriate.” Placement in a less inclusive setting should occur only when “the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

Education – LCEF to Hold Call on Discipline Guidance

On May 23 at 3:00 p.m. EDT, the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) will hold a conference call for advocates regarding the proposed rescission of the Education and Justice Departments’ nondiscriminatory school discipline guidance. This guidance outlines the obligation of schools to ensure that students are not disproportionately punished based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability. Speakers will be Liz King, Director of Education Policy, Leadership Conference Education Fund; Elizabeth Olsson, Senior Policy Associate, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.; Diane Smith Howard, Senior Staff Attorney, National Disability Rights Network; Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center; and Paul-Winston Cange, Field Associate, LCEF. Register here.

Medicaid/Rights – CMS Issues Guidance on Electronic Visit Verification

On May 16, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on implementation of electronic visit verification (EVV) required in the 21st Century Cures Act. Congress directed CMS to issue this guidance at least one year before the implementation deadline of January 19, 2019. The statute requires EVV for personal care services and home health services. However, the guidance provides a very expansive interpretation that includes any service where assistance with activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living is provided in part in the home. Furthermore, it leaves many decisions with privacy implications up to states. The Arc believes the short time frame is insufficient for states to engage with stakeholders to implement these requirements in a way that does not put an undue burden on providers and does not violates the privacy of beneficiaries.

Education – House Committee to Hold Hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education”

On May 22, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education”. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be the only witness. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.

Income Support – House Defeats Farm Bill with SNAP Cuts

On May 18, the House of Representatives defeated the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R.2), more commonly known as the “Farm Bill,” by a vote of 198-213. If passed, this bill would have caused significant cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or “Food Stamp” benefits and dramatically expanded work requirements. New job training programs would be paid for by cuts in SNAP which would be insufficient to meet the need created by the work requirements. In total, the bill would have caused an estimated 2 million people to lose their SNAP benefits. For more information, read The Arc’s official statement.

Rights – U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Holds Public Briefing on Hate Crimes; The Arc’s Director of Rights Policy Testifies

On May 11, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public briefing titled “In the Name of Hate: Examining the Federal Government’s Role in Responding to Hate Crimes”. Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy at The Arc of the United States, testified about hate crimes against people with disabilities. She discussed the many barriers to the reporting and prosecution of hate crimes, including untrained officers believing that victims with disabilities are not credible, lack of standardized protocols for handling complaints from victims with disabilities, lack of training for prosecutors and other court officials, hate crimes being minimized and viewed as pranks or bullying, and people with disabilities being afraid to report someone they know. Watch Nicole’s testimony here.

Social Security – House Committee to Hold Hearing on Securing Americans’ Identities: The Future of the Social Security Number

On May 17, the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on Securing Americans’ Identities: The Future of the Social Security Number. As stated in the Committee’s announcement, the hearing will examine “[t]he dangers of the use of the Social Security number (SSN) as both an identifier and authenticator and examine policy considerations and possible solutions to mitigate the consequences of SSN loss or theft.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.

Education – Today is the Deadline for Comments on the Proposed Delay of IDEA Equity Regulations

Last week The Arc submitted comments in opposition to the Department of Education’s proposed two-year delay of regulations to address significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identification, placement, and discipline. In 2004, the requirement to collect and report data on significant disproportionality, and take certain action if it is found, was added to the IDEA. However, in the years since the law was changed, few states and school districts have reported any such significant disproportionality. This fact was documented in a 2013 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study showing that most states had set thresholds for identifying disproportionate districts so high that no districts ever exceeded them, and, therefore, none were ever identified or the issues resolved. Following the GAO’s recommendation, the Department of Education issued regulations in 2016 that are set to take effect in July of 2018. These regulations provide a standard methodology for determining significant disproportionality, but permit each state to set its own thresholds so long as they are reasonable. See The Arc’s comments here opposing the delay of the regulations that are set to take effect in July. Disability advocates are encouraged to submit their own comments. See shorter sample comments here which can be submitted by clicking here. Comments are due by midnight tonight.

Tax Policy – Texas Opens Qualified ABLE Program

Texas recently opened a new ABLE program, bringing the total number of jurisdictions with ABLE programs to 36. The program is currently only open to Texas residents. It has four investment options. Accounts have a $4 monthly maintenance fee and asset-based fees ranging from 0.25% to 0.39% for investment options. The minimum initial deposit is $50, and the minimum amount for subsequent deposits is $25. More information about state implementation of the ABLE Act can be found here. General information about ABLE programs can be found in the National Policy Matters: ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities here.

Education – The Arc Submits Comments on Proposed Delay of IDEA Equity Regulations; Disability Advocates are Encouraged to Submit Their Own Comments

The Arc submitted comments today in opposition to the Department of Education’s proposed two-year delay of regulations to address significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identification, placement, and discipline. In 2004, the requirement to collect and report data on significant disproportionality, and take certain action if it is found, was added to the IDEA. However, in the 14 years since the law was changed, few states and school districts have reported any such significant disproportionality. This fact was documented in a 2013 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study showing that most states had set thresholds for identifying disproportionate districts so high that no districts ever exceeded them, and, therefore, none were ever identified or the issues resolved. Following the GAO’s recommendation, the Department of Education issued regulations in 2016 that are set to take effect in July of 2018. These regulations provide a standard methodology for determining significant disproportionality, but permit each state to set its own thresholds so long as they are reasonable. See The Arc’s comments here. Disability advocates are encouraged to submit their own comments. See shorter sample comments here which can be submitted by clicking here. Comments are due by midnight on Monday, May 14.

To help understand what disproportionality is, how it harms students with disabilities who are students of color, and what advocates can do to ensure equity in education for all children, the National Disability Rights Network has made this short video.