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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 07
What happened to the federal website for disabled students?

Murray and Cantwell write letter to DeVos
Section One
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What happened to the federal website for disabled students?

Murray and Cantwell write letter to DeVos

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have written a sternly worded letter to new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, demanding that she restore a federal website aimed at students with disabilities and their families.

The website, originally set up under George W. Bush, provided a 'one-stop' explanation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and informed disabled students of their rights under the disability law.

The website vanished without a trace or an explanation when Trump took office.

'We are deeply concerned that prior to your confirmation and arrival at the Department, the centralized resource website for the IDEA became inaccessible to the public for more than a week, and is now redirecting people to a site for the Office of Special Education Programs,' the senators wrote to DeVos.

They added that the new website 'lacks much of the information previously available.'

'The Department's failure to keep this critical resource operational makes it harder for parents, educators, and administrators to find the resources they need to implement this federal law and protect the rights of children with disabilities,' the senators said.

The website had been maintained and regularly updated by the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services as Congress passed new legislation and federal courts interpreted IDEA.

'Recognizing the diversity of the students served under IDEA, the website has provided accessible and informative summaries of the law, training materials, sample educational forms, presentations for the public, and so many other user-friendly resources,' Murray and Cantwell explained.

The senators listed several things they want DeVos to do, starting with giving 'assurance that this website will not be stripped down in any way during your tenure.'

They also asked for a 'detailed timeline' of when resources previously available at the IDEA website became inaccessible to public view, and how those resources will again be offered to families and educators.

They are demanding 'a detailed plan for restoring the information previously available, including information about citizens' rights under the disability act.'

Murray and Cantwell are also asking DeVos to give a firm date by which the public can again access information that has been withdrawn.

Neither senator voted to confirm DeVos, who won her post by a narrow 51-50 margin, only because Vice President Mike Pence was summoned to the Senate chamber to cast the deciding vote in her favor.

DeVos herself has little to no experience with education. She got her job because she is a Republican megadonor who backs school vouchers and charter schools.

The IDEA website is not the only casualty of the new Trump regime. Federal web pages on climate change and LGBT rights disappeared within minutes of Trump's inauguration.

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