From Transition Letter Attachment Sent by AAPD and a Coalition of Consumer Controlled Organizations (12/22/08):
· Students with disabilities commonly face physical abuse in public and private schools due to policies that allow for restraint, seclusion, and aversives, even though federal laws protect people with disabilities from abuse in institutions and treatment settings through monitoring by the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system.
· In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Congress promised to cover the cost of 40% of the “excess cost” of state special education expenditures, but covers less than half of that.
· The US Supreme Court limited IDEA rights of children with disabilities by placing the burden of proof on parents, and eliminating expert fee reimbursement to prevailing parents.
· No Child Left Behind (NCLB) leaves behind children with disabilities, due to its incentive structure.
· Students with disabilities face significant barriers to transition out of K-12, are less likely to complete or attend higher education, and experience difficulty navigating fragmented adult services.
· Classroom teachers are often unprepared to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms.
· Children with disabilities are often bullied in school.
Long Term Goals:
· Protect students with disabilities from school abuse. Federal laws that protect people with disabilities from abuse in institutional and treatment settings must apply to all schools.
· Fully Fund IDEA to effectively fulfill students’ right to “a free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment,” increase accountability to ensure effective special education programs based on the latest research, and insure implementation and enforcement of the law.
· Integrate the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and IDEA so they are accountability-focused, research-driven and advances opportunities for students with disabilities.
· Improve Student Transition: Eliminate barriers that keep students with disabilities from seeking and completing higher education, including barriers to loans and grants, barriers that cause a higher college drop-out rate for students with disabilities, and barriers that prevent students from making a direct transition to work; and widely implement best practices from schools with successful outcomes.
Short Term Goals:
· Issue an Executive Order empowering HHS to implement the DD Bill of Rights Act in all schools; ban the use of aversive interventions, non-emergency restraint, and seclusion for punishment; allow HHS to monitor and enforce its provisions through the P&A, and other systems; and assure all federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities in institutions and residential facilities, apply to and are enforced in all schools.
· Work with Congress to:
o Pass the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008, to safeguard students in residential school programs and end the abuse they now suffer.
o Pass an IDEA Full Funding Bill, to bring federal funding of special education costs to the promised 40% and require a fiscal and programmatic audit of the use of IDEA funds.
o Restore IDEA’s due process rights, allow reimbursement to prevailing families for expert fees, and place the burden of proof in IDEA challenges on school districts.
· Charge the Secretary of Education to conduct a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and their transition into higher education, the workplace, and adult services infrastructure. Include a focus on underserved populations within the disability community.
· Charge the Secretary of Education to develop model standards for bullying prevention for schools and districts to adopt as part of a DOE-led nation-wide effort to provide technical assistance, fund studies to reduce the prevalence of bullying, harassment, and violence against students with disabilities and other students, and explore the outcomes of zero tolerance programs on students with disabilities
· Work with Congress to
o Recognize October as National Disability History and Awareness Month, to promote the inclusion of the history of the disability rights movement and the disability experience in education.
o Ensure the next reauthorization of IDEA highlights transition by requiring experiential learning for students with disabilities to maximize outcomes, and recognizing the significant role state developmental disability service agencies, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and Independent Living Centers and others must play in this process in the transition process.
o Require NCLB data collection to incorporate transition outcomes for students with disabilities to allow tracking of post-school outcomes for students with disabilities on both a school district and state-by-state basis.
o Require training and support of all teachers in Universal Design for Learning and other best practices to improve inclusion of students with disabilities into classrooms.
o Develop and fund leadership programs for youth with disabilities.