Some Great News for a Change

April 28, 2020

Some Great News for a Change!
Core Protections of the IDEA Statute to Remain Intact!

Mayerson & Associates sprang into action to sound the alarm when we learned that the CARES Act legislation contained a provision requiring the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to identify any provisions of the IDEA statute that the Secretary thought Congress should "waive", by April 27, 2020. Our overarching concern was the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be used to strip the IDEA statute of the essential provisions that have been protecting the most vulnerable among us for some 40 years. Sadly, school systems across the county have been lobbying over the past weeks to give Secretary DeVos that kind of waiver power.

On Monday, April 27, Secretary DeVos delivered a letter to the ranking members of Congress in which she makes clear that she is not requesting waiver authority for any of IDEA’s “core tenets.” Secretary DeVos is, however, seeking a limited waiver from Congress that would give her office the authority to extend the IDEA Part B (Early Intervention) transition evaluation timelines until such time as health and safety factors will permit face to face meetings and the resumption of in-person evaluations concerning toddlers. In this connection, assuming that Congress follows Secretary DeVos’ lead, the transition timeline marking the end of Early Intervention would be extended so that a toddler would continue to receive Early Intervention services even after their third birthday, and until the school district can evaluate and determine eligibility for special education programming. The limited waivers being sought by Secretary DeVos also would have an impact on IDEA personnel scholarships and vocational rehabilitation. They will not, however, have any impact on the right to a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE) – the entitlement that is central to our firm’s mission.

Thanks to the many families who took the time to write to their elected representatives in Congress. In these difficult and turbulent times, you helped us to make a big difference — one that will protect your children and the many other students who will follow in their footsteps.