Aug. 14, 2001 --
Tomorrow, Aug. 15, education advocates have dubbed "National Call-In Day" as they try to get disability advocates nationwide to contact Congress and the Bush Administration to urge defeat of two amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that "threaten to eliminate rights of disabled students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," according to the National Center for Law and Education.
Senate/House Conference Committee members meeting to resolve differences in House and Senate versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act being reauthorized must resolve issues with two "discipline amendments" to the law which would allow schools to remove disabled students from school based on "discipline problems." One amendment -- Amendment No. 604 to the IDEA -- is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Session's (R.-AL). The other, Amendment No. 55 to the ESEA, is sponsored by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R.-GA).
A fact sheet on the amendments is online at http://www.cleweb.org/discipline8801.htm with more information on contacts that can be made to oppose the amendments.
"Evidence does not support the need for these discipline amendments," says the Center for Law and Education. "Expelling children does not lead to safer schools or communities," they say, and add that schools "already have the authority to remove children with disabilities who may be harmful to self or others." It is short-sighted to deny any child an education -- and it is particularly irrational to deny appropriate public education to a child with a disability based on what are perceived as "discipline problems," say advocates.
Individuals can send a message on the amendments to their Representative and Senators by going to http://capwiz.com/cek/issues/alert/?alertid=43998&type=CO&azip= or can call and leave a message at the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Groups involved in the National Call-In Day include, besides the National Center for Law and Education (online at http://www.cleweb.org), the PACER Center (at http://www.pacer.org ) the Council for Exceptional Children (at http://www.cec.sped.org ); the National Parent Network on Disabilities (at http://www.npnd.org) and TASH (at http://www.tash.org).