Fulfill The Promise: A National Civil Rights Campaign for Special Education

President Biden, Secretary Cardona, Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor

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Now is the time for the federal government to fulfill the promise made in 1975 to America’s students with disabilities to fund IDEA at 40% and to provide a free and appropriate education and evaluation of unique learning needs for all children with disabilities.

The failure of the federal government to keep the promise of funding IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) at 40% means school districts across the country must battle each year for the meager federal funds which has pitted special education and general education against each other, when in fact all students benefit from a fully funded IDEA program.

We also know that both the short-term needs of our children as we return to schools after a devastating pandemic, as well as the sustained, permanent funding of IDEA, must be met. Our communities must be properly funded as we continue to recover from this pandemic that hastaken a toll on all our students, but especially our students of color and students in poverty.

That is why on on March 23rd, 2021, we filed a “class petition for guidance documents”  calling on the Federal Government to fulfill its promises to our students.

The Federal Government has until June 21, 2021 to respond.

OUR DEMAND

We call on President Biden, Secretary Cardona, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor to fulfill the promise made in 1975 to America's students to fund IDEA at 40% and to provide a free and appropriate education and evaluation of unique learning needs for all children with disabilities.

WHO WE ARE

We are a growing diverse coalition of parents of students with disabilities, disability rights organizations, educator unions, community organizations, and representatives from our respective communities across the US. We are putting the Federal Government on notice through a “class petition for guidance documents” to fulfill their promises to our students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

We are committed to fighting for the necessary resources for our most vulnerable students during this pandemic and as we work towards a new normal where the federal government finally fulfills its promises to all of our students, schools, and communities.

Thank you.

To: President Biden, Secretary Cardona, Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor
From: [Your Name]

Dear President Biden, Secretary Cardona, Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor:

We wholeheartedly sign onto the national civil rights campaign to fulfill the promises to our students with disabilities that the federal government made under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:

• That all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education with support and services designed to meet their unique needs
• That the federal government cover 40% of the additional cost required to provide those necessary services under the IDEA
• That the federal government protect the civil rights of students with disabilities to have their needs met in a comparable way as non-disabled students

We call on President Biden, Secretary Cardona, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor to fulfill the promise made in 1975 to America's students to fund IDEA at 40% and to provide a free and appropriate education and evaluation of unique learning needs for all children with disabilities.

We demand that the federal government step in to fulfill its promises to students, schools, and communities: provide adequate funding for students with disabilities and protect the civil rights of students of color with disabilities who have been so profoundly and disproportionately negatively impacted by the decades’ long failure of Congress to fulfill its promises.

We support the remedies requested in the Class Petition for Guidance Documents that will be filed by parents, labor unions, and the Advocacy Institute to the Department of Education on March 23, 2021, some of which include:

• Guidance to meet student needs such as the backlog of IEP evaluations, social and emotional needs, trauma related needs, and the needs of English-language learners with disabilities and students of color with disabilities
• Guidance regarding how to safely provide in-person close-contact special education services while also complying with necessary COVID-19 health and safety protocols to protect a population of students that may be especially susceptible to infection and death
• Guidance to ensure that American Rescue Plan Act funds are spent in equitable ways to assist students with disabilities and students with mental health needs
• Commitment to improving enforcement protocols and boosting the government’s oversight capacity to monitor shortcomings and prevent further systematic problems

We are committed to fighting for the necessary resources for our most vulnerable students during this devastating pandemic and as we work towards a new normal where the federal government finally fulfills its promises to all of our students, schools, and communities.

Thank you.