NDSC’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Susan Goodman, Senior Education Policy Advisor, Ricki Sabia, and Postsecondary Education Consultant, Stephanie Smith Lee will be joined by the co-founder of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, Madeleine Will, to provide an update on key federal legislation, regulations, and implementation issues impacting individuals with intellectual disabilities given the national elections. Topics will include the potential impact on: IDEA reauthorization, ESSA implementation, the reauthorization of the ID provisions in the Higher Education Act, and the future of Medicaid. This webinar will also include steps you can take to advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Supreme Court Law Suit May Determine Future of Special Education
The National Down Syndrome Congress signed on to a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief written by the National Disability Rights Network and signed by 43 other national disability organizations in a case called Endrew F. v. Douglas County Public Schools.
Stephanie Smith Lee, NDSC Post-secondary Education Consultant, edited and signed on to an amicus brief, for the same case, submitted on behalf of former federal officials responsible for the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Lee was the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education from 2002 to 2005.
Endrew F. attended public school through 4th grade. “Drew” has autism and experienced outbursts and tantrums, which interfered with his ability to learn. Drew was eventually transferred to a non-public school where he made good progress because his behavioral issues were addressed. His parents are suing because Douglas County Public Schools refused to provide Drew with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The hearing officer stated that even if his educational benefit was “de minimus” he was provided FAPE.
This case has far-reaching implications for all students receiving special education services. Over the past three decades, Congress has made clear that FAPE must provide students with disabilities with an equal opportunity to meet the standards the district applies to all children. Specifically, amendments to the IDEA together with Congress’ inclusion of students with disabilities in the national commitment to standards-based education under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) have been part of a comprehensive Congressional effort to ensure that students with disabilities are provided the individual services they need to meet the standards that schools apply to all students.
NDSC Prominent in the State of the Art Conference on Post-secondary Education
NDSC co-sponsored the State of the Art Conference on Post-secondary Education and Students with Intellectual Disabilities, December 1 and 2 in Fairfax, VA. NDSC Senior Education Policy Advisor, Ricki Sabia, and Post-secondary Education Consultant, Stephanie Smith Lee, spoke at a plenary panel session on the outlook for education programs and funding during the next four years.
The conference is an opportunity for parents, students, faculty, program staff, federal officials and researchers to learn from and network with each other. Stephanie, who chairs the National Coordinating Center Accreditation Workgroup, led a plenary panel discussion on the new accreditation standards for post-secondary programs.
Students Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
On November 29, 2016 the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations related to accountability and state plans under ESSA. These regulations are helpful, but still leave a great deal of discretion up to the states in developing their accountability systems and ESSA plans. State level advocacy is necessary to ensure that high expectations and ambitious goals are set for all students and that timely action is taken if students are underperforming. NDSC has been monitoring the 50 states and DC to inform advocates about opportunities to provide stakeholder input in their state’s ESSA implementation plan.
To find information about your state go to the NDSC stakeholder input document. NDSC has also provided sample comments that advocates can send to their state departments of education regarding key decisions to be made in their state ESSA plans. Email addresses are provided for each state in the stakeholder input document. Some states have already released ESSA draft plans. NDSC, in partnership with The Advocacy Institute, has been providing state disability organizations with analyses of these drafts. Read more about the federal accountability and state plan regulations.
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking applicants for its Public Policy Fellowship. Applicants should be exemplary professionals, people with disabilities, or family members of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The fellowship prepares mid-career, or more seasoned leaders, to assume leadership in the disability public policy arena at the state or national level. Fellows spend one year in Washington, D.C. in the office of a Member of Congress, Congressional Committee, or federal agency. Learn more and apply for the fellowship here. Applications are due December 15, 2016.