WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today reaffirmed her long-held position that individualized education must take place for all students, including students with disabilities. As a result, the Secretary is not recommending Congress pass any additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reiterating that learning must continue for all students during the COVID-19 national emergency.
As requested by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Secretary DeVos examined certain federal education laws to determine what, if any, additional waiver authority the Secretary believes is necessary to provide limited flexibility to state and local education agencies during this unprecedented time. The Secretary determined there is no reason that a student’s access to FAPE cannot continue online, through distance education or other alternative strategies.
“We undertook this task acknowledging the reality that most students and teachers are at home today; yet, America’s teachers want to keep teaching and students need to keep learning,” said Secretary DeVos. “While the Department has provided extensive flexibility to help schools transition, there is no reason for Congress to waive any provision designed to keep students learning. With ingenuity, innovation, and grit, I know this nation’s educators and schools can continue to faithfully educate every one of its students.” Continue Reading