IDEA: Where Are We Now? We’re more than halfway through another reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with advocacy efforts underway at the federal, state, and local level. School-based practitioners will need to prepare for a flurry of federal, state, and local regulations. These preparations started in 2002 at the federal level, ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   September 01, 2005
IDEA: Where Are We Now?
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   September 01, 2005
IDEA: Where Are We Now?
The ASHA Leader, September 2005, Vol. 10, 2-20. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.10132005.2
The ASHA Leader, September 2005, Vol. 10, 2-20. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.10132005.2
We’re more than halfway through another reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with advocacy efforts underway at the federal, state, and local level. School-based practitioners will need to prepare for a flurry of federal, state, and local regulations. These preparations started in 2002 at the federal level, in the U.S. Congress, and then moved to the federal regulatory arena, and will wind up in the states and local school districts as they add requirements. ASHA hopes to achieve several victories in advocating for regulatory requirements that highlight the role of the professions in the schools today.
A little more than five years after IDEA was last reauthorized in 1997, the process began anew. The legislative process alone spanned three years and two sessions of Congress. Beginning in 2002, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) gathered public input on how the current IDEA is working and what changes were needed. Three years later, President George Bush signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 into law in December.
Later that month, the ED launched the regulatory process, taking the unprecedented step of soliciting public comments for its consideration in the development of the upcoming federal regulations prior to its release of proposed regulations. Federal regulations are designed to explain Congressional intent of the law and to help state and localities implement and comply with the law. In response, thousands of letters and e-mails from those involved in special education poured in-including over 1,600 from ASHA members. In addition, the ED toured the country, hosting a series of public meetings in seven cities to gather public comment.
After listening, the ED got to work revising the regulations. And even before the Federal Register rolled off the presses with the Notice of Public Rulemaking on June 21, 2005, the ED posted an unofficial version of the proposed rules for IDEA Part B and D on its Web site, giving members a head start on preparing comments. With the official comment period underway, the ED embarked on a second round of meetings across the country, during which 14 members represented ASHA in providing comments. Other members also spoke at the regional meetings, and sent letters and e-mails to the ED.
ASHA mobilized a Member Advisory Group and a National Office staff team that analyzed the proposed regulations and submitted comments to the ED (see page 21 for issues on which ASHA commented).
Meanwhile, most of the provisions of the law took effect on July 1, 2004. On this date, P.L. 108–446 became the law of the land, and the provisions of IDEA ‘97 no longer applied. One notable exception was the definition of “highly qualified teacher,” which became effective when the law was passed. With the final regulations yet to be released, the 1999 regulations implementing the law remain in effect when consistent with the new law.
With no new regulations to guide them, most states and local districts were tasked with implementing IDEA. Some districts went ahead and made changes, but they may need to make revisions after the regulations are released if their policies are not in compliance with the final regulations. Others are electing to wait until the final regulations are released, counting on the belief that the ED won’t take action against states pending the release of final regulations. For clinicians, each level of government-from Congress and federal regulatory agencies to state and local agencies-adds a layer of requirements to the policies that clinicians must follow in implementing IDEA. And each level presents opportunities for advocacy.
The ED will release final regulations for IDEA in late 2005 or early 2006. Afterwards, the ED may make additional modifications through a formal comment process, provide guidance concerning specific sections of the regulations, or respond by correspondence to requests for guidance or clarification of the regulations.
For more information, contact Catherine Clarke, ASHA’s director of education and regulatory advocacy, by e-mail at cclarke@asha.org or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4159.
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September 2005
Volume 10, Issue 13