EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AT RISK
COVID-19 has disrupted the entire world order and has caused several countries and Governments take extreme measures to check its spread and safeguard citizens. In the United States too, several of the states have announced #ShelterInPlace, #WorkFromHome and #SchoolClosures across the board to check the spread of the #CoronaVirus. In order to combat with school closures and to encourage #socialdistancing or as we at PRAGNYA prefer to call it, #physicaldistancing, Online Learning opportunities are being offered to students in several school districts, to continue and keep up their academic progress and pursuits. However, a subset of the student population include those with disabilities, learning, physical, mental, emotional and developmental. These students require specific supports, services, and accommodations to be able to pursue their educational journey. The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1973) guarantees FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) for children with disabilities. This is now at risk and requires immediate action to ensure equitable access to learning for children of all abilities.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, there is a stimulus bill that has been introduced in the Senate to help cope with the economic crisis. However, "The TERRIBLE NEWS" is that language has been put in that stimulus bill that directs Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to recommend "waivers" to IDEA. This means that the Secretary could recommend that Child Find, IEP meetings, services, supports and/ or procedural safeguards be "waived." This would entirely jeopardize the support structure for our already vulnerable students with disabilities rendering them completely helpless and without equitable access to learning.
If you oppose this, and want children with disabilities to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education, please contact your senators and let them know. You can also text Resist to 50409 to do it automatically. Here is the text COPAA recommends - please feel free to modify and adapt it. You could also go look up your senators by your zipcode and email their offices or call them. Please do so immediately.
While the COVID-19 outbreak has placed a tremendous and unprecedented strain on schools and districts, it is imperative that we work together to find solutions that allow children to receive equitable access to an education and the services that support them without undoing all of their civil and educational rights.I am writing as a concerned (parent/teacher/child advocate) to urge you to reject any provision that would provide waiver authority to the Secretary of Education regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Over 7 million children rely on IDEA to receive special education supports and services.
I hope you will help schools by providing states with additional funding that can be used to provide teachers and school leaders and families with the tools they need to connect to teach and support students. Schools can also be supported with funding to provide extended school year to students and other compensatory services.
Please support the students with disabilities and their families that rely upon the IDEA to have equitable access to an education.