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Family Engagement and Student Support to Serve K-20, Special Education

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

House Republicans Pass “Parent Bill of Rights”

On Friday, the House Republicans passed the Parent Bill of Rights Act in a 213-208 vote. Republicans did not, however, vote down party lines with Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Ken Buck (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Mike Lawler (NY) and Matt Rosendale (MT) all voting with Democrats in opposing the measure. The legislation H.R.5, more commonly referred to as “The Parent Bill of Rights,” was first introduced in the 117th Congress. It would require K-12 school districts receiving federal funding to publicly post their curriculum and annually provide parents with a list of books in the school library, a breakdown of school expenditures and more. The bill has been touted by some as a vehicle for GOP priorities on policies relating to school choice and transgender students. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, vowed that the bill “will meet a dead end” in the Senate. The legislation has also already been denounced by the Biden Administration and several education organizations.

Supreme Court Unanimously Rules in Favor of Student in Special Education Case

In 2017, the Perez family filed a due-process complaint with the Michigan Department of Education based on the IDEA, the ADA, and other statutes. The school district offered to settle the IDEA complaint, and the family agreed. The settlement agreement included the district agreeing to place Perez in the Michigan School for the Deaf and pay for postsecondary compensatory education and sign-language services. Following the agreement, the family then sued the district in federal district court under the ADA, seeking unspecified money damages among other relief. The school district argued that the Perez family could not file the suit because they had not exhausted all administrative proceedings under IDEA — and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with the district. The Perez family then appealed and the U.S. solicitor general recommended the court grant review.

The case raised two questions. The first is whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires families who have settled their particular IDEA claims with a school district to “exhaust” all administrative proceedings under the that law before filing a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The second is whether a family must exhaust IDEA’s own administrative proceedings when it is pursuing a non-IDEA claim for money damages under the ADA or other federal disability laws.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Perez’s favor; individuals who have entered into a settlement resolving their Individuals with Disabilities Education Act claims can also pursue monetary damages against school districts under the Americans with Disabilities Act without exhausting the administrative process under IDEA. The decision reverses one from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling did not spell out whether ADA should provide financial compensation to the plaintiff in this case, Manuel Perez.

Department of Education Announces New FASFA will Debut in December

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) published the Better FAFSA Better Future Roadmap, an implementation timeline of resources, guidance, and training materials for students, parents, schools, institutions, and other stakeholders about the redesigned 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form. The redesign will significantly simplify how the form is used and should be available by December 2023 for the 2024–2025 form. The redesign stems in part  from The FAFSA Simplification Act and Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTUREAct, which requires the office of Federal Student Aid and its various partners to adopt important changes to the FAFSA process that will support students and families and make their federal student aid experience smoother. In November, the Department published a Dear Colleague letter which outlined the requirements of the FAFSA Simplification Act and the Department’s plans for implementation for the 2023–24 award year.

Action Alerts, Make Your Voice Heard: Pay Teachers Act, Educators for America, Personnel Investments in FY 24

AACTE Action Alerts: Urge Your Members of Congress to Support the Pay Teachers Act

As you will recall, earlier this month, Senator Sanders (D-VT), Chairman of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced legislation aimed at addressing teacher pay and the critical shortage of educators facing the nation. The Pay Teachers Act not only would increase the minimum teacher salary to $60,000 per year, but also significantly increases federal investments in public schools and in personnel development.  Additionally, to address the teacher shortage our nation faces, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the Educators for America Act with the input of experts like you in the field of educator preparation. The legislation would “build the capacity of educator preparation programs to ensure all students have access to profession-ready educators; recruit new and diverse educators into the profession; invest in partnership between higher education, state and local partners, and support innovation to meet the changing needs of students.”

Click this link to enter your address and you can quickly send a letter to your Members of Congress expressing the importance of the Pay Teachers Act and this link to support Educators for America.

CEC Action Alert: FY24 Personnel Investment

Last week, we provided a breakdown of the Biden-Harris Administration’s FY2024 budget proposal, which includes substantial increases in investments that address the critical shortage of educators facing the nation. These investments include, but are not limited to:

  • $132 million for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP), which funds comprehensive educator preparation programs such as residencies.
  • $30 million for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program, which funds educator preparation programs at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.
  • $250 million for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part D – Personnel Preparation program (IDEA-D-PP).

Click this link to enter your address and you can quickly send a letter to your Members of Congress asking for support for these critical investments that can support rebuilding and diversifying the special educator and specialized instructional support personnel pipeline.

 Until next time, see you on Twitter! Kait @brennan_kait

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