U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and The Workforce
WASHINGTON, DC -- After several months of meetings with parents, teachers and other interested individuals and groups across the country, Republicans and Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee joined together today to pass H.R. 5, the “Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997” by a voice vote. The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee passed an identical bill on May 7th by voice vote.
“I strongly believe the changes to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act will have a real and positive impact on the lives of millions of students with disabilities. We are helping children with disabilities learn more, and learn better,” said Chairman of the Committee Bill Goodling (R- PA). “In my 22 years as a Member of Congress, I know of no authorizing legislation that has ever gone through this kind of bipartisan, bicameral process along with representatives of the Administration.”
Opening Statement : Senator James Jeffords
Markup of The IDEA Amendments of 1997
Concurrently, Chairman Jeffords made an opening statement on the Markup of IDEA Amendments of 1997. Below are excerpts from his opening statement.
“The process followed in developing this legislation was unprecedented. The cooperation demonstrated by everyone was extraordinary. In fact, the House committee on Education and the Workforce will consider the same legislation in just a few minutes.
Many people and organizations have helped us to get where we are today.
The purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 are to clarify
and strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing parents and
educators with the tools to:
· preserve the right of children with disabilities to a free appropriate public education;
· continue to provide children with disabilities early intervention, preschool, and educational experiences that prepare them for later educational challenges and employment;
· drive more meaningful accountability to the process of educating children with disabilities by placing emphasis on standards applied to all children and achieving outcomes for children with disabilities based on such standards;
· expand opportunities for parents, special education, related services, regular education, early intervention service providers, and others to work in new partnerships at both the State and local levels; and finally
· create incentives to enhance the capacity of schools and other community-based entities to work effectively with children with disabilities and their families, through targeted funding for personnel training, research, media, technology and the dissemination of technical assistance and best practices.”
Chairman Jeffords highlighted a few examples...
Recommendations from parents...............
“First, we listened and responded to recommendations from parents:
* The bill specifies that parents will participate in any meeting in which the educational placement of their child would be set...Through their child’s IEP, parents will know how the child’s school will assist the child to succeed in the general education curriculum...And most importantly, educational services to a child with a disability will not cease.
Recommendations from educators...............
Second, we listened to educators, especially local educators. In the bill we have given them options for fiscal relief.
* In any year in which Federal appropriations increase above inflation, local school districts will receive the benefits...In addition, once the Federal appropriation for Part B of IDEA reaches 44.1 billion, in any year a local district may use up to 20 percent of the increase in its share of IDEA funds to supplant local dollars...Finally, in the bill we addressed discipline. We clarify and put in one place for the first time, the guidelines for disciplining children with disabilities. Educators will have a clearer understanding of when and how they may discipline disabled children. Parents will know that the rights of their children are protected.
When we embarked on the process of reauthorizing IDEA, we had two choices — either to act separately and define common ground from our own vantage point, or work together — all of us — to develop public policy that made sense, could be justified, was understood, and will be supported in both the short- and long-term. We have done that.”
To assist members of NPND and other interested parties regarding the IDEA draft, Heather Hebdon, Chair of the NPND Legislative Subcommittee, led the meeting. Diana Lipton, of Disability Rights, Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) in California; Kathy Boundy, Center on Law and Education in Massachusetts; and David Egnor, Doctoral Student, University of KS described the proposed legislation. Susan Craig, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education joined the call to provide technical interpretation if needed.
It was a lively discussion with many questions and answers from participants across the country. Two issues surfaced in the conference call that subsequently were dealt with in the Senate Amendments of the Markup of the Bill on May 7th.
· One amendment clarified that “stay put” was only affected for students who were involved with the possession of weapons or drugs. “Stay put” still applies to all other students.
· Another amendment clarified that the term “substantial evidence of the likelihood of serious bodily injury” means “beyond the preponderance of the evidence”. Hence, school districts will need to produce a much higher standard of evidence to prove that a student is likely to inflict serious bodily injury. A set of questions and answers created by Madeleine Will and Dave Egnor concerning the key points in the draft were discussed (please see information above on how to obtain this document).
On the day of the call, NPND had “mechanical glitches” and needed help to get the documents out for the call. A HUGE THANK YOU to Parents Are Vital in Education (PAVE) in Washington, Vermont Parent Information Center, Exceptional Children’s Advocacy Center (ECAC) in North Carolina and Idaho Parents Unlimited, Inc. (IPUL) for fast faxing at the last minute. We do appreciate your help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!