Education: IDEA Full Funding Act Reintroduced

On March 26, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), John Katko (R-NY), Joe Neguse (D-CO), David McKinley (R-WV), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Glen Thompson (R-PA) introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act (S.866/H.R.1878). This bipartisan bill would increase spending over the next decade to bring the federal share of funding for special education up to 40 percent, the amount committed when the law was first enacted in 1975. The federal government currently covers only 14 percent of these costs. The Arc supports this legislation.

Education: Military Education Savings Account Bill Introduced

On March 7, Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 (S.695). This bill would create “Military Education Savings Accounts” that parents serving in the military could use for private school or other education expenses for their children. The Arc opposes this bill because it directs public funds to private schools that are not required to follow the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. View The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: Federal Judge Vacates ED Decision to Delay IDEA Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality Rule

On March 7, a Federal District Court judge overturned the Education Department’s (ED) decision to delay implementation of the 2016 significant disproportionality rule because it was “arbitrary and capricious” and the department “failed to provide a reasoned explanation” for its decision. The requirement for states and school districts to collect and report data on significant disproportionality, and take certain action if it is found, was added to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004. However, since that time, few states and school districts have reported any such significant disproportionality. In response to this problem, documented in a 2013 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Education issued regulations in 2016 to require a standard methodology to calculate significant disproportionality on the basis of race in identification, placement, and discipline. In 2018, the ED announced it would delay implementation of the rule. The Arc is pleased with the court ruling, which will ensure states and school districts move forward with implementation.

Education: House Committee Holds Hearing on Harmful Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses were Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Arc worked with its state office in Rhode Island to recruit the parent witness and support her testimony.

Visit the Committee website for more information and to access archived video of the hearing. This hearing took place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. The Arc also appreciates Mrs. Smith’s willingness to tell her family’s story about their difficult, but ultimately successful, experience in obtaining the proper supports in school.

Education: Scholarship Tax Credit Bill Introduced in the House and Senate

On February 28, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced bills (H.R.1434 and S.634) to provide a 100% federal tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools. The Arc opposes this bill because schools accepting scholarships indirectly supported by the tax credit are not required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: House Committee to Hold Hearing on Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and the Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses will be Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). Visit the Committee website for more information and to access live video on the day of the hearing. The live stream will begin at 10:00 a.m. EST.

This hearing is taking place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities.

Education: Education Department Releases FAQ on FERPA and School Safety Issues

On February 5, the Department of Education issued an FAQ document clarifying situations in which schools can share personally identifiable information protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) with law enforcement. This document was compiled from existing guidance as part of a recommendation by the Federal Commission on School Safety to clarify the frequently misunderstood parts of FERPA.

Education: Senators Introduce School Voucher Bill

On January 16, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and 10 other Senators introduced the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act (CHOICE) Act. The CHOICE Act amends the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which provides private school vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia; allows Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds to follow a student parentally placed in a private school using a voucher or tax credit scholarship; and establishes a pilot program for providing school vouchers to military families. The Arc opposes these programs because schools participating in them are not required to follow the IDEA or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: Senators Introduce DC School Voucher Reauthorization

On January 24, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which provides private school vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia. The Arc opposes the program because schools participating in the program are not required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: Education Department Announces Initiative to Address Use of Restraint and Seclusion on Students With Disabilities

On January 17, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a new initiative to address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. The initiative will include compliance reviews, data collection improvements, and technical assistance. The Arc welcomes this new initiative and hopes for meaningful progress in reducing the use of restraint and seclusion, including passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Read The Arc’s statement.