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.”
The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a five-part report series on implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The last major report on IDEA Implementation from NCD was released in 2002, prior to the 2004 reauthorization. The five parts of the series are:
- Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA
- English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families
- Federal Monitoring and Enforcement of IDEA Compliance
- Every Student Succeeds Act and Students with Disabilities
- The Segregation of Students with Disabilities
NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
Last week, the House and Senate advanced the most important spending bills for disability programs – Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). Both would maintain overall sequestration funding levels and include a number of substantial cuts to programs, earning the promise of a veto by President Obama.
L-HHS-ED – Senate – The Senate bill passed the Appropriations Committee along party lines on June 25. The bill’s discretionary funding level is $3.6 billion below the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 enacted level and includes numerous policy riders that would limit the activities of federal agencies. Several federal agencies would receive significant cuts and a small number would receive increases. Notable examples include:
- LABOR: Includes a 4% cut for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.
- HHS: Includes a 28% cut for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) program management that would restrict the agency’s ability to operate the Affordable Care Act programs, Medicare, and Medicaid.
- EDUCATION: Includes a $1.1 billion cut for the Department. However, the IDEA state grant program would receive a nearly 1% increase.
L-HHS – House – The House bill passed the full Appropriations Committee along party lines on June 24 and would provide discretionary funding at $3.7 billion below the FY 2015 level. The bill also includes numerous policy riders. The House bill included spending cuts and select increases similar to those in the Senate bill:
- LABOR: Includes a 2% cut for the Employment and Training Administration that helps to implement Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.
- HHS: Includes a $344 million cut for CMS.
- EDUCATION: Includes a cut of $2.8 billion to the Department of Education. However, this includes an increase of $12 billion (4.3%) for IDEA grants to states.
See the funding levels for specific disability related programs.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) approved its Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill on an 8-4 party line vote. Funding for these agencies is reduced by 2.5% overall with cuts mostly targeted on the Affordable Care Act, family planning, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Disability-related programs were largely level funded, and one received a sizable increase – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to states. The IDEA state grant would receive an increase of 4.3% over the 2015 funding level, bringing the federal share of the additional cost of providing special education from 16% to 17%. A detailed funding chart will be provided when more detailed line item funding is made available by the committee. The full House Appropriations Committee markup is scheduled for tomorrow and the Senate L-HHS-ED Subcommittee will take up their bill later this week.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S. 2789, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Full Funding Act, on September 10. This bill would increase spending over the next decade to bring the federal share of funding for special education up to 40%, the amount promised when the law was first enacted in 1975. To date, the federal government has never covered more than 16% of these costs per year. The increased funding would be paid for through increased taxes on individuals earning over $1 million per year. The House version of the bill, HR 4136, was introduced in June by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Learn more at help.senate.gov.
On September 10, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S.2790, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Fairness Restoration Act. This legislation would ensure parents who successfully challenge a school district under IDEA can recoup costs for psychologists, behavior specialists, physicians and other experts they engage in order to bring their case. Currently, families can challenge schools if they do not believe that their child is being provided a free and appropriate education (FAPE) under the law. While attorney’s fees can be recovered by whichever party prevails, a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision determined that costs for expert witnesses cannot. The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would remedy this problem by overriding the Supreme Court’s decision and restoring IDEA’s original intent, allowing prevailing parents to recover expert fees just like prevailing plaintiffs in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, and other civil rights laws.
Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which would help ensure that Charter Schools enroll and retain students with disabilities. The bill would require states to ensure that charter schools can meet the needs of students with disabilities and meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. The Arc joined other organizations in supporting H.R. 10.
H.R. 4136, introduced by Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Tim Walz (D-MN), and David McKinley (R-WV), calls for full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA Full Funding Act would increase spending over the next decade to bring the federal share of funding for special education up to 40%, the amount promised when the law was first enacted in 1975. How the increased spending would be paid for is not specified in the bill.
The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) jointly released a school discipline guidance package for schools to ensure that discipline policies do not discriminate against racial or ethnic groups or students with disabilities and help school leaders find alternatives to excluding students from classrooms or schools. The guidance materials cite data from the Civil Rights Data Collection that shows students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by suspensions and expulsions.
Some of the major findings included data showing that students served by IDEA [the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] represent 12% of students in the country, they make up 19% of students suspended in school, 20% of students receiving out-of-school suspension once, 25% of students receiving multiple out-of-school suspensions, 19% of students expelled, 23% of students referred to law enforcement, and 23% of students receiving a school-related arrest. Additionally, students with disabilities (under the IDEA and Section 504 statutes) represent 14% of students, but nearly 76% of the students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools.
The guidance emphasizes positive environments, prevention efforts, clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences, and continuous efforts to ensure equity. It highlights schools’ obligations under civil rights laws and provides numerous resources for their use.
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.