News from the U.S. Department of Education

Please see the excerpts from recent Press Releases from the U.S. Department of Education:

April 27, 2020

Secretary DeVos Reiterates that Learning Must Continue for All Students; Declines to Seek Congressional Waivers to the FAPE and LRE Requirements of IDEA 

On April 27, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, reaffirmed her position that individualized education must take place for all students, including students with disabilities.

Due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress had asked the Secretary to determine if there were any waiver authority needed to provide flexibility to state and local education agencies during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The Secretary did not recommend that Congress pass any additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Reiterating that learning must continue for all students during this emergency, Secretary DeVos stated, "We undertook this task acknowledging the reality that most students and teachers are at home today; yet America's teachers want to keep teaching and students need to keep learning." “While the Department has provided extensive flexibility to help schools transition, there is no reason for Congress to waive any provision designed to keep students learning. With ingenuity, innovation, and grit, I know this nation's educators and schools can continue to faithfully educate every one of its students."

Although the Department of Education did not advise any waivers to core tenets of IDEA, it asked Congress to consider flexibilities on some administrative requirements. These waivers include one that would allow local education agencies (LEAs) to keep any funds allotted to them for the 2019-2020 academic year that they have not spent during the COVID-19 national emergency. Without this waiver, LEAs would have to return the money to the state.

Another waiver would extend the timeline for the IDEA part B transition evaluation. Instead of the timeline calculation starting on a child's third birthday, it would start when health and safety factors allow face-to-face meetings and the young child can be evaluated. With this waiver, the child can continue receiving early intervention services (Part C services) until the Part B evaluation can be done and special education eligibility determined.

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April 23, 2020

Over $13 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Relief is Made Available to Support Continued Education for K-12 Students 

On April 23, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that more than $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds had been allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for state and local education agencies. The funds are provided to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. Education leaders can use the funds to immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year. Secretary DeVos stated, "Now is the time to truly rethink education and to get creative about how we meet each student's unique needs. The funding made available today has very few bureaucratic strings attached and empowers local education leaders to do just that. I encourage them to focus on investing in the technology, distance learning resources, training and long-term planning that will help education continue for both teachers and students, no matter where learning takes place."

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