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.

Education: School Voucher Bills Introduced

Two bills were introduced on January 3 to fund private school education at the federal level. The first, S.5, provides a federal tax credit for private school tuition. The second, H.R. 69, allows parents to take federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I funding to a public or private school of their choice. The Arc opposes these bills as they do not maintain the accountability and civil rights protections that students with disabilities have in public schools. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: Trump Administration Rescinds School Discipline Guidance

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it had rescinded a package of guidance documents related to school discipline. The guidance detailed how, among other things, educators should prevent discipline from being administered in a way that disproportionately impacts minority students and those with disabilities. The announcement follows the December 18, 2018, release of the Federal Commission on School Safety report, which recommended rescission of the guidance. Education Secretary DeVos stated that the guidance put too much emphasis on statistics, adding that the rescission “makes it clear that discipline is a matter on which classroom teachers and local school leaders deserve and need autonomy.” The Arc strongly opposes the rescission of the package of documents that provide helpful guidance for schools, but emphasizes that the obligations for schools under existing civil rights and education laws remain in effect.

Education: 40th Annual Report to Congress on IDEA Implementation Released

Education: 40th Annual Report to Congress on IDEA Implementation Released​​​

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the Department of Education report annually on the progress made toward the provision of a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities and the provision of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities. The report focuses on the children and students with disabilities being served under IDEA, Parts C or B, nationally and at the state level. Notable findings in the 40th annual report, which covers the 2015-2016 school year, include:

  • Almost one-half of students reported under the category of intellectual disability (49.4 percent) and students reported under the category of multiple disabilities (45.5 percent) were educated inside the regular class less than 40 percent of the day.
  • From 2006-07 through 2015-16, the high school graduation percentage increased by at least 5 percentage points for each disability category except orthopedic impairment (4.3 percentage points), intellectual disability (4.6 percentage points), and multiple disabilities (2.2 percentage points).

The percentage of students with intellectual disability who graduated with a regular high school diploma decreased slightly from the previous year from 42.4 percent 42.2 percent.