National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Rules Committee Considers Damaging Amendments To The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act
Late this afternoon, The House of Representatives' Rules Committee is scheduled to finalize the rule for floor debate on H.R. 1501, the Consequences for Juvenile Offenders Act of 1999 and amendments to H.R. 1501. The Rules Committee has been asked to consider several damaging amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
All NAMI members and advocates are encouraged to contact members of the Rules Committee and urge them to oppose all amendments to IDEA. Members of the Rules Committee can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or by going to the Committee website at http://www.house.gov/rules/. A summary of the amendments that erode the protections of IDEA are attached at the end of this article.
Members of the Rules Committee:
David Dreier (R-CA0 Chairman
The following is a letter authored by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities of which NAMI is a member. This letter specifically addresses the amendments to IDEA being considered by the Rules Committee.
OPPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT
June 14, 1999
Today, the House of Representatives' Rules Committee is scheduled to author the rule on H.R. 1501, the Consequences for Juvenile Offenders Act of 1999 and amendments to H.R. 1501. The Rules Committee may be asked to consider amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On behalf of the members of the Education Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, we ask you to oppose any amendments to IDEA. CCD is a coalition of more than 100 national organizations that works to promote opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and their families.
CCD asks you to oppose any amendments to IDEA for several important reasons. First, amendments to IDEA are not germane to H.R. 1501. IDEA falls under the jurisdiction of the Education and the Workforce Committee and was revised significantly in 1997.
Second, the 1997 Amendments to IDEA do not need to be changed to ensure school safety. Schools are given ample authority under the 1997 IDEA Amendments to maintain environments conducive to learning. For example, a student with a disability who brings a gun to school can be immediately removed from school. Schools can immediately call the police and report crimes committed by students with disabilities. If the behavior of a child is not related to the child's disability, the child can be disciplined in the same manner as non-disabled children. While education services cannot be terminated, a child can be removed from his home school and placed in an alternative setting.
Moreover, law enforcement agencies across the country report that ceasing education services for any child only increases juvenile crime. In fact, research demonstrates that cessation of education services leads to increases in juvenile crime, drop out rates, incarceration and drug use. Rather than releasing troubled children to the streets, a portion of the solution is to require students who are expelled or suspended to continue their education in secure, supervised educational settings.
Finally, families of children with disabilities are concerned about school safety. In fact, these families know that too often their children are the victims of inappropriate conduct. Furthermore, CCD member organizations report during the past six weeks, there has been an increasing number of students with certain disabilities who have neither violated any school code of conduct nor threatened to violate any code of conduct and yet who have been inappropriately removed from their school in the name of school safety.
Please do not approve any amendments to IDEA.
Thank you for considering our views.
Summary of Amendments
Nussle #24 Amends the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to allow State educational agencies and local educational agencies to establish and implement uniform policies with respect to discipline and order applicable to all children within their jurisdiction to ensure safety and an appropriate educational atmosphere in the their schools.
Norwood #72 Amends the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to authorize school personnel to discipline students with disabilities who have weapons or illegal drugs in the same manner as school personnel would discipline students without disabilities.
Talent #117 Allows schools to discipline, including suspend or expell IDEA students for possession of a gun or firearm in the same manner they would punish any other student.
Barr #140 Provides that school personnel may discipline a child with a disability who carries or possesses a gun or firearm to or at school, on school premises, or to or at school functions in the same manner that such personnel may punish a child without a disability.
Hill #149 Allows school personnel to impose discipline against a child with a disability to the same extent as the discipline would be applied to children without disabilities when the child carries a weapon to school
Shadegg #161 Late. Changes discipline policies for IDEA students by allowing such students who possess or acquire firearms, guns, or drugs in school to be disciplined in the same manner as non-special education students, and allowing schools to choose not to continue providing educational services after an IDEA student is expelled, as long as this is consistent with state law.