The Friday Fax

a weekly news bulletin from the National Parent Network on Disabilities
JANUARY 17, 1997 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Number 26

Senator Jeffords to Introduce IDEA

NPND learned this week that Senator James Jeffords is planning to introduce a bill for the reauthorization of IDEA. At the time of this writing, we have not seen a copy of this bill. We will include further updates next week.

The “Son of Istook” is with us

On Tuesday, January 7, by a vote of 226 for and 202 against, the House of Representatives passed the so-called “Truth in Testimony” House Rule which requires certain witnesses appearing before congressional committees to describe the amount and sources of federal funds they receive. The text of the new rule reads as follows:

“(4) Each committee shall, to the greatest extent practicable, require witnesses who appear before it to submit in advance written statements of proposed testimony and to limit their initial oral presentations to the committee to brief summaries thereof. In the case of a witness appearing in nongovernmental capacity, a written statement of proposed testimony shall include a curriculum vitae and a disclosure of the amount and source (by agency and program) of any Federal grant (or subgrant thereof) of contract (or subcontract thereof) received during the current fiscal year or either of the two previous fiscal years by the witness or by an entity represented by the witness.”

This new rule only applies to witnesses appearing in person. It does not apply to the submission of written testimony. This language, while not changed from the draft that we recently posted, should be read in light of an explanatory paragraph attached to the resolution. The explanatory paragraph states:

Information Required of Public Witnesses: Committees shall require to the greatest extent practicable, that non-governmental witnesses include as part of their written testimony that is already required by House Rules to be submitted in advance, both a curriculum vitae and a disclosure by source and amount of federal grants and contracts received by them and any organizations they represent at that hearing in the current and preceding two fiscal years, to the extent that such information is relevant to the subject matter of, and the witness’ representational capacity at, that hearing. The purpose of these new requirements is to give committee members, the public, and the press a more detailed context in which to consider a witness’ testimony in terms of their education, experience, and the extent to which they or the organizations being represented have benefited from Federal grants and contracts related to their appearance. It is not the intention of this section, for instance, to require individuals to disclose the amounts of Federal entitlements they have received, such as Medicare or Social Security or other income support payments or individual benefits, or to require farmers to disclose amounts received in crop or commodity price support payments. Instead, the disclosure requirement is designed to elicit information from those who have received Federal grants or contracts for the purpose of providing the government or other individuals or entities with specified goods, services, or information. While failure to comply fully with the requirement would not give rise to a point of order against the witness testifying, it could result in an objection to including the witness’ written testimony in the hearing record in absence of such disclosure.

Thanks to Alliance for Justice for this update on the Truth in Testimony Rule.

Welfare Reform Publication

New issue papers by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law describe how the 1996 welfare law will affect children with serious mental, emotional or behavioral disorders and highlight the opportunities and the dangers facing states in decisions they must now make about implementing the law.

Designed for use by advocates and state policymakers, the set of five papers is titled A Dubious Bargain. It includes an overview, three papers on the programs that most affect children with mental, emotional or behavioral disorders— the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the children’s supplemental security income (SSI) program and Medicaid—and one covering other child-serving programs changed by the welfare law (child welfare, social services, child care and nutrition).

The issue papers recommend policies for states’ implementation of each program that could mitigate the federal law’s potentially negative impact on vulnerable children and families.

To order A Dubious Bargain, send $2 per issue paper (or $7 for all five) plus $4 postage and handling to Publications Desk, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, 1101 15th Street, NW, #1212, Washington, DC 20005.

On November 29, 1996 - in Friday Fax, Number 25 - we published the Special Education funding increase figures for each state. Has anyone used these and investigated what is happening in your state? Are there good models of how the increase in funds in your state benefited kids, families, or teachers? We’d love to hear from you! Please e-mail or fax us any information you gathered.

A Message to NPND Members!

During the 105th Congress the IDEA will, once again, be up for reauthorization. During similar efforts in the 104th Congress it became apparent that the disability advocates here in the nation's capital were, at times, taking positions that were not wholly supported by their constituencies "in the field". The NPND Board of Directors, in an effort to make sure that NPND does not fall victim to a policy "disconnect" with its membership, is redoubling it's efforts to get input and direction from all NPND members!

Hence, starting with this communication, NPND will be soliciting input from our members regarding a host of issues now confronting families. In the future we hope to be able to produce mechanisms to garner as much input as possible independent of the Friday Fax. It's important that NPND members drive the policy positions that NPND takes. As we've said many times in the past, NPND's presence and influence is directly connected to your active involvement and participation in the formulation of NPND's policy positions.

During the last several attempts to reauthorize the IDEA the issue of "discipline" has been a major, divisive issue that has divided "regular" education advocates, disability advocates and parents of children and youth with disabilities. HR 5, as introduced in the House last week, again contains "discipline" provisions that, in certain cases, would allow school districts to cease educational services. It seems apparent that most if not all parents and advocates would oppose modifying the IDEA in a way that would allow such a cessation of services. The issue is, therefore, are there any modifications of the IDEA that parents and advocates would support that the Congress could enact and feel they have assisted in bringing about "safe" schools.

To that end, one possible policy option is permanently adopting the language which comprises what is known as the "Jeffords Amendment". The Jeffords amendment allows a school principal to remove any student who brings a firearm to school from the school premises immediately. It further allows for the placement of that student in an "interim alternative setting" for up to 45 days. During the interim placement, a permanent placement for the student is to be identified. In many cases, it is anticipated that the "new" placement will not be at the original school. Should the parents of this student disagree with the placement decision, they have a right to appeal the decision. However, during the appeal process the student remains in the interim placement not the original placement. This differs from historic practice and the language of the law which provided that during an appeal process the student was to "stay put" in his original placement. Hence, for students who bring fire arms to school the historic concept of "stay put" is eliminated.

As currently written, the Jeffords amendment will cease to exist or "sunset" when the IDEA is reauthorized.

Please indicate your level of support for the following policy options (5 = support -- 1= oppose).

Name :
Type of NPND Member:

1. Retain the Jeffords amendment as a permanent part of the IDEA.
1 2 3 4 5

2. Retain and expand the Jeffords amendment by including weapons other than and in addition to fire arms.
1 2 3 4 5

3. Eliminate the Jeffords amendment in favor of broader, more sweeping discipline language.
1 2 3 4 5

Any other comments:

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