What’s New in Special Education Legislation?
In Missouri – House Bill 432 is awaiting Governor Parson’s signature to become law.
Contained in this bill is a provision that allows parents or legal guardians of a student to record by audio “any meeting held under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, . . . , or Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Any recording made by a parent or legal guardian, . . . [is] the property of the parent or legal guardian creating the recording. No school district or charter school [can] impose pre-meeting notification requirements of recording by a parent or legal guardian of more than 24 hours.” What does all of this mean? Districts must allow parents to record meetings and not require the parent notify the district the parent intends to record the meeting more than 24 hours prior to the meeting date and time. If you, as a parent or legal guardian, intend to record a meeting with school personnel regarding your child’s IEP or Section 504 Plan, plan on notifying the district 24 hours before the meeting date. It is likely the school district will also record the meeting. If the district also records the meeting, that recording would become an educational record for your child.
Also contained in this bill are requirements addressing seclusion and restraint in schools. The bill indicates schools “will reserve restraint or seclusion for situations or conditions in which there is imminent danger of physical harm to self or others;” indicates seclusion or restraint will stop as soon as “provider determines that the student is no longer an imminent danger of physical harm to self or others;” and adds specific requirements to maintain reports of the use of seclusion and restraint, copies of which will be provided to Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education within 30 days of the incident. The bill also adds a definition of ‘prone restraint;’ adds specific restrictions when using any restraint (mechanical, physical, or prone); updates the definition of ‘seclusion’ which no longer states the use of ‘locking hardware’ and focuses on ‘involuntary confinement’ and ‘physically prevented from leaving.’ If your child is being secluded or restrained, or you suspect your child is being secluded or restrained, make sure you are getting the proper documentation by requesting, in writing, copies of the seclusion/restraint reports. If you would like assistance with navigating this issue, contact FACT. We may be able to assist you directly or refer you to where you can obtain assistance.
HB 432 in its entirety can be found here.
Federal – Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA)
Although seclusion and restraint are intended to be measures of last resort, data indicates they are sometimes used when there is no imminent danger or risk of serious physical harm to self or others. Per the last data collection, persons with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to the use of seclusion and restraint. Under the KASSA, any school receiving federal funds would be prohibited from secluding children or using mechanical, chemical, or physical restraint practices that are life threatening or restrict breathing, including prone and supine restraint. Additionally, States would be required to implement the law by collecting and analyzing data, establishing policies and procedures to ensure compliance, and improving schools’ climates and cultures by implementing positive behavior interventions and supports.
You can read the full text of the Keeping All Student Safe Act as currently proposed here.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act has been endorsed by National Disability Organizations such as “Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates,” the “National Disability Rights Network,” “TASH,” the “National Center for Learning Disabilities,” “Center for Learner Equity,” and many others. You can read these organizations statements regarding KASSA here.
The federal government has enacted laws to ensure the educational rights of children with disabilities. Below you will find information on some of this important legislation.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children, and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. Visit http://idea.ed.gov for more information on IDEA.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .” Find out more about Section 504 here.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Find out more about the ADA here.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ensures equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. It serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems. An important responsibility is resolving complaints of discrimination. Learn more about the Office for Civil Rights here.
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is part of the U.S. Department of Education. OSEP provides leadership and financial support to assist states, and local districts improve results for children from birth to age 21. Its mission is to protect the educational rights of children with disabilities. OSEP administers the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Find out more about OSEP here.