Department of Education Released Guidance Outlining Charter Schools’ Responsibilities Under Federal Civil Rights Laws

On May 14, the Department of Education released guidance clarifying that charter schools – like all public schools – have a federal obligation to ensure that all children, regardless of race, national origin, sex, or disability status, receive a fair and equal opportunity to succeed. Charters have grown significantly in recent years and now make up nearly 6 percent of the nation’s public schools – three times the number in 1999. Read the Department’s letter on their website.

Disability Rights Leadership Institute on Bioethics

Led by Not Dead Yet, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and several other national disability organizations, leaders in disability rights and bioethics met April 24-25 to discuss the growing threats to people with disabilities of withholding of medical treatment on the basis of disability; assisted suicide laws; and ethical issues of genetic and reproductive technologies. Concerns are growing both within the United States and internationally regarding the threats to people with disabilities inherent in possible health care rationing, assumptions by others about what makes life worth living, and laws and policies that allow physicians to withhold life-sustaining treatment over the expressed objection of the individual or their surrogate. The Arc participated in the conference, which ended with plans for working together further to address the issues raised by the speakers and participants.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Several Senators indicated bi-partisan support for ratification of The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) last week – Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), McCain (R-AZ), Moran (R-KS), and Udall (D-NM). Ratification of the CRPD will allow U.S. participation at the CRPD Conference of States Parties and permit the U.S. to appoint a member of the CRPD Committee.  Through these mechanisms, the U.S. can provide and influence guidance on the implementation of the treaty and lend its expertise as more countries develop their own disability rights laws.  No changes to U.S. law are required by ratification.

The Arc appreciates the support of the seven Senators and is hopeful that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate will act quickly and join 112 other nations that have ratified the treaty. Sixty-seven Senators must vote in favor of the CRPD for the US to ratify the treaty.