The Friday Fax

a weekly news bulletin from the National Parent Network on Disabilities
OCTOBER 4, 1996 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Number 13

IDEA Reauthorization Dies (the wicked witch is dead) And Yet Lives (no rest for the wicked)

The reauthorization of the IDEA ended in the 104th Congress. The Senate was unable to bring a bill to the floor and hence, nothing could go forward from either house.

The good news is that current law is the law of the land. But that does not tell the whole story. In order to understand the challenges still facing us, it is important to understand some of the dynamics and issues that brought down the bills that were put forward during the 104th Congress. Come with us now to the days of the opening of the 104th Congress.

You may remember that in the opening days of this session the first challenge that set upon us was SB. 1, Unfunded Mandates. After much hard work and valiant intervention by parents in Idaho with Senator Kempthorne, the IDEA and the ADA were exempted from that bill. Later in the Congress we faced the de-funding of PTI's, the balanced budget amendment, the ACIR recommendations (again labeling the IDEA as an unfunded mandate), SSI and of course, the reauthorization of the IDEA. Long story short, we won a few partial victories and lost some big battles. As we look into the 105th Congress, even with some change in its membership, many of the legislators who sponsored bills we fought will be back. We can expect more tough sledding ahead.

At the end of the 104th Congress disability advocates requested that senator Frist and others “set aside his important legislation until the 105th Congress.”

There is now growing concern that the 105th Congress will move too quickly without allowing time suffiecient to resolve all outstanding issues surrounding the IDEA.

For instance, there has been a lot of discussion around the country about what families will and won't support in terms of modifications to the IDEA. One popular battle cry has been "leave Part B alone". We must all face the political reality that Part B will not be left alone. In fact in the last Congress some positive amendments were made to Part B such as parents became mandated members of the placement team, short term objectives were maintained, positive behavior supports were identified as a necessary part of the IEP for students who need them, special considerations for communication needs (including assistive technology) were added to the IEP, mediation was mandated in all states, and, the ability to recoup attorney fees was protected.

It now is essential to clearly articulate common concerns and positions.of parents across the country. It is also essential that members of Congress also publicly commit to common principles regarding the reauthorization of the IDEA.

Attached to this FF is a Petition Supporting the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities. Based on conversations we’ve had with parents around the country, we think the principles it contains expresses the interests of parents of students with disabilities in clear, concise language. We urge you to review them and if you agree with them do three things:
1. Circulate one copy of this petition amongst parents. Get them to "sign-on" to the petition as individuals. Collect as many signatures as possible during October and the first two weeks of November.
2. Circulate the petition amongst service providing agencies for agency "sign-ons". As with the individuals above, get as many "sign-ons" as you can between now and mid November.
3. Make appointments with members of your Congressional delegation and ask them to also "sign-on" in support of these principles. When pursuing your Congressional delegation seek signatures from both incumbents and their challengers (you never know who will win). It's important that these contacts be made during October prior to the election.

In mid-November make copies of these signed petitions and mail them to NPND, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the Secretary of Education (FF will provide the appropriate addresses following the election). Additionally, be sure to forward the individual and agency signed petitions to your members of Congress immediately following the election so they know where their constituents stand on these issues.

In addition to getting petitions signed, through any means possible, arrange for your members of Congress to actually visit special education students at school. They need to put a face on this bill. They need more of a first hand experience with the people whose lives will be impacted upon by this legislation.

The main thing to remember here is that we now have another shot at all of this. We must get it right this time. We cannot wait to see how things come out and hope to stop them in the twelfth hour. We must apply pressure and lots of it from the start and keep it up until we get a law that helps kids. Don't be lulled into a sense of false security because of changes in Congress. Remember, all of the draft bills and the bill that passed the House contained provisions that weakened the educational rights of students with disabilities. We should not be in the business of supporting Democrats or Republicans. We should be supporting members of Congress who will preserve and expand the educational rights of students with disabilities. Likewise, we should oppose anyone who will weaken or destroy the educational rights of students with disabilities.


We/I the undersigned, believe that more than ever before, it is essential that the educational rights of students with disabilities be protected and expanded. We/I therefore, support the following principles and urge the Congress to support them in the upcoming reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

· No school age student should ever have educational services cease.

· So called "disruptive students" should not be treated as "discipline" problems, they should be viewed as instructional challenges and solutions should be sought through the IEP process.

· Students with disabilities must have access to and utilization of all appropriate assistive technology.

· Schools should begin formalized planning for the transition to work or further education with students with disabilities at age 14 or before where appropriate.

· Parents must be mandated members of the placement team.

· Parents must receive notice of all meetings well in their native language.

· Parents must remain mandated members of the IEP team.

· Parents must have the right to bring anyone with them they feel appropriate to IEP meetings.

· School districts should be required to gain the prior approval of parents before any change in placement occurs.

· The current "stay put" concept of the IDEA should be maintained.

· Classroom teachers should receive the training and support necessary to effectively teach all of the students in their classes.

· The rights of parents to recoup legal fees must be maintained.

· The IDEA discretionary programs must be reauthorized.

· Part H early childhood services must be protected and reauthorized.

Name *** Organization (as appropriate) *** Address *** Phone/ Fax




(Feel free to copy and share)

NPND, 1727 King Street, Suite 305, Alexandria, VA 22314 — Fax 703-836-1232

The 104th Congress Increases Funding for Education and Other Key Programs

As was reported here last week, the 104th Congress came to a close, agreement was reached on increasing various education and human service programs. As anticipated, the Parent Training and Information Centers received an increase of $2 million and special education (Part B) was boosted by $783 million. Other programs such as Medicaid and Head Start were raised to levels consistent with the Administration's request for FY 97.
ITEM FY 1997 Appropriations Change from FY 1996
MCH Block $681,061 + $2,857
Medicaid - current law $98,141,139 + $7,000,576
Medicaid - admin $4,171,923 + 429,923
Head Start $3,981,000 + 411,671
ADD, total $114,232 no change
DD Councils $64,803 no change
P & A $26,718 no change
PNS $5,250 no change
UAP $17,461 no change
SpEd - state grants $3,783,685 + $783,685
(severe dis) $10,030 no change
(personnel devel.) $93,339 + $2,000
(PTI) $15,535 + $2,000
(innov.and dev.) $16,000 + $2,000
Rehab total $2,509,447 + $53,355
IL- total $74,687 + $2,127
(NIDRR) $70,000 + $16
(assistive tech) $36,109 no change
NIH total $12,747,203 + $819,641
NICHHD $631,703 + $37,156
All figures in 000s

Gone Fishin'

Due to staff travel, vacations and just plain being worn out, there will be no FF next week. We'll be back the following week (Friday, October 18) with the latest and the greatest. The response that we've received from the FF since we started doing this a few months ago has been very gratifying. Thanks to all for reading and thanks for caring.

With a Little Help From Our Friends

We now have our arms around the elephant (is that phrase politically correct these days). It appears that the embezzlement has left NPND with a significant debt. We are now in the process of developing a plan of recovery. We would be interested in any ideas or input that you may have to help us fight our way through all of this. As with many things we know the process will be slow. In the mean time, life goes on. If you have any suggestions for our fundraising efforts, please forward them to the address below. Thanks again for all of the support you given us through this ordeal.

Urgent call to Action on SSI Children's Regulations

As part of the Welfare bill passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton earlier this year, the Social Security Administration's (SSA) must make certain changes to the eligibility standards for the children's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Under the new law, children must have a "medically determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations." It falls to SSA to determine how severe a child's disability must be to meet this new definition of disability for SSI. This critical decision will have a tremendous impact on tens or even thousands of children with severe disabilities and their families.

Many disability advocates are concerned that the Clinton Administration may set too high a standard in order to avoid Congressional backlash, and because more children dropped from the program, the greater the savings which can be applied to the budget deficit. However, fear of Congressional backlash and arbitrary quotas to increase cost savings are not appropriate driving forces behind public policy. This is especially true when the well-being of tens of thousands of children with severe disabilities hang in the balance.

Call President Clinton; Carol Rasco, Director of the President's Domestic Policy Council; and Franklin Raines, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as soon as possible. The White House comment line is (202)456-4111, Carol Rasco can be reached at (202) 46-2216, and Franklin Raines can be reached at (202) 395-4840. Tell them:

  • Do not set a new standard for disability that will unreasonably and unfairly hurt children with disabilities who are truly dependent on SSI;
  • The driving force in setting a new standard for SSI eligibility should be the best interest of low income children with severe disabilities, not an arbitrary budget figure; and
  • The power to hurt these children and their families, or to assist them, is in the Administration's hands.

  • NPND * 1727 King Street, Suite 305 * Alexandria, VA 22314
    (703)684-6763 (V/TDD) * (703)836-1232 (fax) * *