Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear Candidate - Part III

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am somewhat frustrated by the failure of Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain to answer a series of special education law issue questions. I submitted the questions in early August. So far there has been a form letter education response from the Obama campaign which does not mention special education. I have not gotten a response from the McCain campaign.
I am aware that these campaigns get bombarded with requests, but I remain shocked by this apparent lack of interest in the growing community of special education stakeholders. (I like the word "stakeholder." In some of my cases, they are literally holding stakes!) To ensure that there was not some miscommunication, I have again sent off the questions to the candidates. Any answers that are received will be shared here. To refresh your memory, the ten questions follow:

Dear Candidate: ...Please provide your answers regarding these questions pertaining to special education as well as any other positions on special education that you have. We will share all relevant answers we receive with our readers:
1. Please state your position regarding "full" funding of the individuals with Disabilities Education Act, "IDEA." School districts were originally promised federal funds in the amount of 40% of special ed costs when the predecessor to IDEA passed. IDEA funding is now less than 17%. Many people involved in education feel that it is the largest unfunded mandate. If you are elected, at what level will your first recommended budget fund special education? Please explain how you will pay for any increases in funding.
2. What is you position concerning the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, "NCLB" and IDEA.
3. What is you position concerning the reauthorization of IDEA.
4. In 1982, the U. S. Supreme Court decided the case of Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Bd. of Ed. v. Rowley 455 U.S. 175, 102 S.Ct. 3034, 553 IDELR 656 (1982). In that seminal case, the high court set the standard for the majority of special education cases by defining what a school district must do in order to provide a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE). Would you as President seek any changes in the Rowley standard?
5. Would you as President seek any legislative changes to reverse or modify the decisions by the Supreme Court in recent cases, including Schaffer v. Weast 546 U.S. 49, 126 S.Ct. 528, 44 IDELR 150 (2005); Arlington Cent. Sch. Dist Bd. of Educ v. Murphy 548 U.S. 291, 126 S.Ct. 2455, 45 IDELR 267 (6/16/06); or Winkelman by Winkelman v. Parma City Sch. Dist 550 U.S.____, 127 S.Ct 1994, 47 IDELR 281 (5/21/2007) .
6. Would you support any changes in the provisions regarding the awarding of attorney's fees in special education cases?
7. In general, would you likely support the positions of parents or school districts in cases alleging a violation of the special education laws?
8. What are your feelings about the Response to Intervention evaluation process? Should it be expanded beyond eligibility for specific learning disabilities?
9. Concerning NCLB, what are your thoughts concerning the principles of accountability and school sanctions. Would you propose any changes to the exceptions for students with severe cognitive disabilities or other students with disabilities for purposes of assessment?
10. What should be the role of the Office of Special Education of the federal Department of Education in interpreting and in enforcing the special education laws?

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