On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2014 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). View the Committee Report. A few disability-related programs received notable increases:
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grants to states – an increase of $125 million (to $11.7 billion)
- Early Intervention – an increase of $21 million (to $463 million)
- Research – an increase of $20 million (to nearly $70 million)
Social Security Administration:
- Program integrity activities, including continuing disability reviews (CDRs) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) redeterminations – a $441 million increase (to $1.2 billion)
- Administrative expenses – an increase of $534 million (to $12 billion)
Despite these and other funding increases, it is important to note that the Senate numbers do not account for the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) in FY 2014 since the Senate Budget Resolution assumed elimination of sequestration. It is likely that one or more continuing resolutions (CR) are likely at this point.
The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released its annual determination of how states have performed in implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). States are required to submit data and measurable improvement goals to OSERS about graduation rates, meeting evaluation timelines, participation and performance on statewide assessments, and many other areas. States must report on their progress in meeting those goals. OSERS then evaluates the performance of each state and issues determination letters. States may receive one of four determinations: meets, needs assistance, needs intervention, or needs substantial intervention. IDEA requires OSERS to direct states to obtain technical assistance or develop corrective action plans. In worst cases, IDEA authorizes OSERS to withhold a state’s IDEA funding. To learn how your state fared, go to the Department of Education website.
The Department of Education made a technical change to the state maintenance of effort (MOE) rule under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The change was included in the continuing resolution (CR), the spending bill for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year that Congress passed last month.
Under an MOE, states cannot cut their own education spending below whatever amount they spent the previous year and still receive their full allotment of federal dollars under IDEA, unless they get special permission from the Department. A provision in the recent spending legislation clarified that while states that are out of compliance with the law will have their IDEA funding reduced, the cut will not be permanent. Instead, the reduction would just be for the year (or years) that the state was out of compliance and did not obtain a waiver. Once the problem had been fixed, the state could go back to its regular spending levels. Any surplus funds resulting from reductions in funding due to MOE violations would be divided among states that follow the rule as a one-time bonus.
Federal discretionary programs are scheduled to be cut by approximately 10% in the second half of 2013, unless Congress negotiates a deal to prevent the cuts. These include hundreds of programs, including many that are of great importance to the disability community, such as IDEA State Grants, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Supportive Housing for People with Disabilities and the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. The White House released a state-by-state report showing the impact of the cuts; view this chart to see how the cuts will affect your state. To date, three quarters of the enacted $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years has come from spending cuts alone. The Arc supports replacing the automatic cuts with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenues. See Action Alert above.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) has reintroduced three bills collectively known as the “Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility Act” or “TEAM Act.” The bills seek to redesign federal programs for youth with intellectual disability as they transition from secondary school to the workforce. The bills were introduced during the last Congress (112th Congress), but did not advance.
- The TEAM Education Act (H.R. 510) seeks to streamline the transition process at the high-school level and require coordination between the state education authority and the state I/DD authority. It would amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- The Team Empowerment Act (H.R. 511) seeks to increase coordination between state educational agencies and state intellectual and developmental disability agencies to successfully transition youth with significant disabilities from high school into meaningful employment and post-secondary education opportunities. It would amend the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
- The TEAM Employment Act (H.R. 509) seeks to realign preferred outcomes for people with significant disabilities, and streamlines public funding by requiring the Vocational Rehabilitation system to actively engage with other state entities. It would amend the Rehabilitation Act.
The bills were referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a 2012 Report to the President and Secretary of Education entitled, “Helping to Ensure Equal Access to Education.” The report covers fiscal years 2009-2012. During that time period, OCR handled 24% more cases than during the preceding 4 year time period. Over half (55%) of the 28,971 complaints OCR handled concerned disability discrimination. OCR reported that almost one-third of school districts reported at least one incident of bullying or harassment based on disability. OCR reported that students with disabilities served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were twice as likely to be suspended out of school (13%) than their peers without disabilities (6%).
In addition to investigating complaints of discrimination, OCR also issues guidance for school districts. Since January 2009, OCR has issued four guidance documents that address or include topics related to disability rights: (1) equal access to electronic book readers and other technology for postsecondary students with disabilities; (2) equal access to emerging technologies for all students, including elementary and secondary school students; (3) schools’ obligations to respond to bullying and harassment based on disability; and (4) changes in the meaning of “disability” made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
he Department of Education Office for Civil Rights released a report covering the period of 2009 to 2011 that details the types of disability rights complaints it received. Fifty-five percent of the complaints concerned disability discrimination. Of the 11,700 disability complaints OCR received, 4,600 alleged violations in the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The report indicated that students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were twice as likely to be suspended from school as their peers without disabilities. Of all the students who were expelled in school year 2009-2010, 16% were served under IDEA. Of all reported physical restraints in schools, 70% involved children with disabilities.
The US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), would like to change the way it monitors states’ compliance with provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Currently, the system measures dropout rates, suspension and expulsion rates, percent of time spent in the general education classroom, parental involvement and other indicators. OSEP would like to move to a monitoring system that looks at student outcomes. OSEP has created a website where it has posed a series of questions and wants input from stakeholders. Individuals may share their ideas for how to ensure that students with disabilities do well in school.
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which is required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to monitor states’ compliance with special education requirements, is rethinking its accountability system and wants to shift the balance from a system focused primarily on compliance to one that puts more emphasis on results. OSEP believes it is critical that resources be aligned to and support improved educational results and functional outcomes for children with disabilities.
Over the next few months, OSEP will be asking questions to gain stakeholders’ perspective on what should be included in the new accountability system. Each question will be posted for a two-week period during which time you will have the opportunity to provide your ideas. OSEP plans to post new questions every two weeks so that stakeholders can comment on various aspects of this effort to move to a Results-Driven Accountability system.
The current question focuses on the relationship between improvement of educational results and functional outcomes, and implementation of IDEA requirements. You can read and respond to this question by visiting the DOE blog.