by Patricia Lillie, LDA of America President
Rumor has it that the Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is just around the corner. IDEA is supposed to be revised every 5 years but the last reauthorization of IDEA was in 2004, twelve years ago. While the reauthorization is long overdue, it is exciting to think that 2017 may actually be the year when Congress decides to consider the IDEA. The first step will be for the House and Senate education committees to develop draft bills and possibly hold a series of hearings to get input from an array of stakeholders.
In the preamble of IDEA, this statement leaps out; “It is the intent of Congress…” In other words, Congress determines the direction of the law and states what its members intend the law governing special education should cover. This might include, given the recent passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” that certain functions currently handled by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) would be sent back to the states and local districts. Usually OSEP has a good deal of input into what Congress ultimately decides. With a new Administration, Congress may or may not depend on that expertise in writing a new law.
In preparation for the reauthorization of IDEA, members of the LDA Public Policy Committee and the Advocacy Committee are now in the process of reviewing and revising the LDA Platform for the Reauthorization of IDEA and LDA Core Beliefs and Standards and will be seeking input from the LDA Leadership (State Presidents, Professional Advisory Board, LDA Committees and the LDA membership).
In this issue of LDA Today, Myrna Mandlawitz, LDA’s Public Policy Director, points out that; “LDA cannot participate in partisan political activity.” She continues, “We (LDA) will continue our activities to educate all policy makers about the importance of education, employment, and ensuring the best quality of life for each of the individuals we represent …”
When the Reauthorization of IDEA is officially announced, LDA will be ready to meet with members of Congress and staff members at OSEP and other offices at the US Department of Education to educate and advocate on behalf of students with Specific Learning Disabilities and their families. We will be discussing safeguards and due process protections, Child Find, SLD Evaluation Procedures, Identification and Eligibility, Response to Intervention, the Individualized Education Program (IEP), The Least Restrictive Environment LRE), Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Special Education Services, Transition Services, Graduation, and ensuring students are ready for post-secondary education (college or technical education) and the workplace. We will also examine accommodations, full funding of the IDEA, and teacher preparation.
LDA urges parents and advocates to become familiar with federal and corresponding state laws. We also invite you to join LDA and work with us in ensuring students with SLD receive the Free Appropriate Public Education they deserve and to which they are entitled to be able to succeed in school and in life.