NLDline

An Important Message To All:

To Parents and Supporters of IDEA,

I received the following messages through e-mail yesterday.  It should be shared throughout the country. Congratulations to both Marcie Roth and Kathleen Boundy for great work!!!! It is time to take action!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patty Smith

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Forwarded Message:

Subj: IDEA is in serious jeopardy- informative update
Date: 98-04-04 07:56:05 EST
From: marcie@erols.com (Marcie Roth)
To: Undisclosed.Recipients@smtp2.erols.com

Dear Friends,

You have been receiving a lot of material about IDEA and what to do. Please don't be lulled into complacency in the mistaken belief that someone else is taking care of this.

This memo from Kathy Boundy-Co-Director of the Center for Law and Education and a TASH board member is very informative, and should give you the details you need to talk with your Senators.

Simply put, call or visit  your Senators in their home office and tell them to vote NO to the Gregg amendment to HR 2646. Then call Senator Jeffords and Senator Lott and say the same thing.

Marcie Roth, TASH

To:  Colleagues
From:  Kathleen Boundy, Center for Law and Education
Date:  March 25, 1998 Re:  Amendments Threaten Basic Rights of Students with Disabilities

URGENT!!!   An amendment to H.R. 2636  (Coverdell A+ Education Savings Account Bill) that is referred to as the Gregg Amendment regarding IDEA flexibility will be considered in the Senate on April 20, 1998, when the Senate reconvenes following its recess (April 2- 19).   H.R. 2636 has already passed the House.  This   Amendment by Senator Gregg (R. N.H.)- which has yet to be released - is expected to include the language previously offered by Senator Slade Gorton (R..WA) on March 23, 1998, denying students with disabilities their procedural rights.

Mr. Gregg's amendment is expected to seek to amend section 615(k) of IDEA to authorize states and local educational agencies to establish their own discipline policies with respect to students with disabilities.  It is expected to authorize each SEA or LEA to establish and implement uniform policies with respect to discipline and order applicable to all children within its jurisdiction to ensure safety and an appropriate educational atmosphere in its schools.

This amendment, if passed, would have the effect of permitting the removal of federal statutory protections under the IDEA, as amended, that protect students with disabilities from being unilaterally removed from their educational programs except in limited instances.  If passed, students with disabilities would not be entitled to stay put protections during the pendency of any administrative or judicial  proceedings under section 615(j); they would not be entitled to receive a free appropriate public education during the period of any suspension or expulsion of more than 10 school days, cumulatively or consecutively; and, they would not be entitled to a manifestation determination hearing under section 615(k)(4) prior to being sanctioned for their conduct, including disruptive behavior.  Nor would students with disabilities who are charged with possession of a weapon or possessing, using, selling or distributing illegal drugs, have a right to be educated in an interim alternative placement.  Rather, under this amendment, students with disabilities may be completely denied all public education for indefinite periods of time, depending on the state laws where they live.

More than 25 years ago the Congress passed Public Law 94-142 and specifically granted students with disabilities additional procedural safeguards because of the extensive history of mistreatment, exclusion and abuse.  If the Gregg Amendment is passed, it will result in the wholesale elimination of the zero reject principle.

The timing of this amendment is even more tragic, given that the IDEA Amendments of 1997 stress for the first time the importance of quality instruction and participation in the general curriculum for all students with disabilities.

As parents and advocates, we must remember that schools belong to our communities - communities of parents, students, and their neighbors.  Go to your elected school boards, your school administrators and teachers.  Ask if they support the Gregg Amendment and the denial of procedural safeguards to students with disabilities.   Hold them accountable and urge your school boards, school administrators, and teachers to call  their respective national lobbyists to register their disagreement with positions being taken in their names.  Urge them to contact their Senators to VOTE NO on the Gregg Amendment to H.R. 2646 on April 21st.  Ask them to join you in visiting  your Senators and Representatives while they are home during the recess from April 2 to April 19th.  Tell them to leave the IDEA Amendments of 1997 alone.

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 were created through extensive bipartisan effort following a lengthy period of input and debate.  The time of debate ended on June 4.1997, when amidst great  fanfare from both sides of the Congress, President Clinton signed the Act, as amended.  The time of division and debate is over - the time for educating ALL our children is long overdue!

Ask the student councils, your children's classmates, your friends, neighbors and relatives to speak out - to contact their Senators and Representatives.  Tell your Senators to VOTE NO on the Gregg Amendment regarding IDEA flexibility. Challenge support of the Gregg amendment as contrary to our beliefs and values and the civil rights of students with disabilities.

VISIT OR CALL YOUR SENATORS AND URGE THEM TO VOTE NO ON THE GREGG AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2646 ON APRIL 21st.

Also PLEASE call the majority leader Senator Trent Lott and chair of the Education and Labor Committee Jim Jeffords and tell them that this amendment is a breach of the agreement reached by the bipartisan effort that brought the IDEA Amendments of 1997 to the floor under their leadership.

To contact:  General Senate Switchboard:  1-202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121

Senator Lott
202 224 6253

Senator Jeffords
202 224 5141

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion!