September 26, 1997....................................................................Number 61
In the very near future (the date has not been announced at press time) Congress will hold a crucial "Conference Committee" meeting to work out their differences on the appropriations bills emanating from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This year there are several amendments that are critically important to parents of children now receiving public education services.
One of the "rules" of a conference committee is that any provision or language that appears in both the Senate and House versions is not debatable and cannot be changed. However, if a provision or language appears in one bill but not the other, it may be removed, modified or adopted - but both houses have to agree on what's to be done. When such a provision exists it is termed to be "conferencable." Hence, the action in the conference revolves around those provisions that do not appear in both bills with both sides trying to maintain their unique provisions. Some provisions survive and some do not.
This year there are two amendments that are of grave concern to parents of children. One of them was introduced by Representative Riggs and the other by Senator Gorton. Both amendments are "conferencable."
Parents and advocates need to oppose BOTH of these amendments. Please see the column on CONFEREES (below).
Friday Fax has just learned that a Dear Colleague/Dear Conferee letter is being circulated in the House by Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) that calls for the elimination of the Gorton amendment in it's entirety. Stay Tuned!
The conferees have been named to the Conference Committee for the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill.
The Senate has named:
|Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) )|
|Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)|
|Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WV)|
|Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO)|
|Sen. Judd Gregg(R-NH)|
|Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-NC)|
|Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)|
|Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)|
|Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV)|
|Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)|
|Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC)|
|Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)|
|Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR)|
|Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)|
|Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)|
|Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)|
|Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK|
|Appointed by the House are:|
|Rep. Robert Livingston (R-LA)|
|Rep. John Porter (R-IL)|
|Rep. Bill Young (R-FL)|
|Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX)|
|Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK)|
|Rep. Dan Miller (R-FL)|
|Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR)|
|Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS)|
|Rep. Ann Northrup (R-KY)|
|Rep. David Obey (D-IL)|
|Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH)|
|Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)|
|Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)|
|Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)|
|Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)|
Please note the following items are TALKING POINTS - NOT YELLING POINTS. It is very likely that many Senators did not fully understand the Gorton amendment who voted for it. We hope they have a much better understanding of it by this time. When you discuss this amendment with your representative or Senator or any of the identified conferees, do not assume that they are out to hurt kids. Assume that in the pressure to pass an appropriations bill, many last minute issues are not fully understood. It's your job to help them to understand that the Gorton Amendment:
On August 28, 1997, the President of the Board of Directors and the Chairperson of the Policy/Legislative Committee for NPND asked the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services to clarify the IDEA Amendments of 1997, as it pertains to the application of the Free and Appropriate Education provisions for students who have been suspended from school for 10 days or less.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services has answered this letter of inquiry with a non-binding, non-regulatory response that provides information to assist States and school districts in implementing IDEA '97 prior to the publication of Department regulations. The following is a brief summary of the letter of response from Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary, and Thomas Hehir, Director of the Office of Special Education Programs.
A free and appropriate public education does extend to students with disabilities who are suspended or expelled, however it applies only to students who have been suspended or expelled from school for more than ten days.
The Department does not believe that the statute requires a manifest determination prior to removal from school for less than ten days and no functional behavioral assessment needs to be conducted before suspension or removal.
IDEA '97 continues to allow a school district to seek a court order to remove a student with a disability from school or otherwise change the student's current educational placement if the school district believes that maintaining the student in the current educational placement is substantially likely to result in injury to the student or others.
You may refer to the original letter of request from NPND, and the response letter from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services on the NPND web site (http://www.npnd.org) for a more complete description of the questions and responses. In addition, NPND has a working group analyzing this letter, and will prepare a response in the near future.
Both the Senate and the House have introduced bills that would amend the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act during the summer months and the House version has already passed. Both of these bills have serious consequences for students with disabilities. As the debate begins in the Senate, there are a number of areas of concern that need to be rectified.
The Senate version:
Let your Senator know that vocational education matters to you, and that the options for students with special needs should be appropriate. For additional information on the Perkins Bill, call 202-986-3000.
The Senate is expected to take up the "Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Act of 1997" in October, which in its current form would harm children and exacerbates - rather than reduces youth crime in this country. The bill fails to adequately invest in prevention efforts, endangers children by putting them in adult jails, endangers children who have committed no crimes and forces children out of school and on to the streets because of possession of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. You are urged to support amendments to the bill that would address the issues described above. For more information, contact the Children's Defense Fund.
Senators, Congressmen, peers, friends, and family joined in a wonderful celebration honoring Bobby Silverstein, staff member to Senator Harkin for the past ten years. Prior to working in the Senate, Bobby Silverstein served as an staff member to Congressman Williams.
In a burst of bipartisan praise, Senators Harkin, Kennedy, Frist, Jeffords, Wellstone and Congressman Hoyer lauded the efforts of his stunning 13 years as a Congressional aide. Senator Kennedy listed Bobby as the 101st Senator and Senator Jeffords presented a top ten list of Silverstein's accomplishments. Between the tears and laughter it was a wonderful celebration.
Bobby will direct the National Disability Law Policy Center at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
The Combined Federal Campaign is under way. The Friday Fax is one of the programs of NPND that is supported in part by CFC funding. If you would like to consider the National Parent Network on Disabilities, the number is 1532.
THE NATIONAL PARENT NETWORK ON DISABILITIES (NPND)
1200 G Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 434-8686 (V/TDD)
(202) 638-0509 (fax)
Web site at www.npnd.org