Major Events Last Week
Education – Report shows fewer students with disabilities enrolled in charters schools than traditional public schools
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report
that found fewer students with disabilities enrolled in public charter schools (8.2%) than enrolled in traditional public schools (11.2%). Compared to traditional public schools, charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with intellectual disabilities (0.84% compared to 0.45%). Charter schools serve about 2 million students and must adhere to federal requirements, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). GAO said that the reasons for the discrepancy in enrollment of students with disabilities were not entirely clear. The Department of Education said in response to the report that it would issue new guidance to charter schools on their obligations to serve all students. The Department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating charters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin to see if they are enrolling and serving students with disabilities adequately.
Autism – Senate holds hearing on the needs of military families with children with special health care needs
On June 21, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, chaired by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), held a hearing on the issues impacting military families affected by disabilities. The hearing focused on coverage of applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders by TRICARE, the military’s health care program. Several witnesses discussed the research on the effectiveness of ABA and various systems’ classification of ABA as either an educational or medical intervention. Another witness described the unique challenges faced by military families, including TRICARE’s annual caps on ABA therapy, loss of coverage for ABA therapy when their military status changes, and moving to the bottom of state Medicaid waiting lists with each of their frequent relocations. View the webcast and read the testimony at the subcommittee website.
Major Events This Week
Health Care – The Supreme Court likely to announce decision on the Affordable Care Act this Thursday
The Supreme Court did not issue a ruling today on the Affordable Care Act, but did announce that they will meet again on Thursday. We expect they will issue their ruling then. Staff will analyze and report on the decision following the announcement.
Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on Disability Appeals Process
On June 27, the House Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Social Security will hold the fourth hearing in a series entitled “Securing the Future of the Disability Insurance Program.” This hearing will focus on the disability appeals process. Visit the Committee web site to view the hearing announcement and for live video.
Americans with Disabilities Act/Olmstead – Senate HELP Committee held hearing on ADA and Olmstead Implementation on the 13th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Olmstead enforcement on the 13th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C. decision. In its decision, the Court recognized that the civil rights of people with disabilities under the ADA are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated from the rest of society. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez testified about DOJ’s enforcement efforts, which includes actions in 25 states. Henry Claypool, Principal Deputy Administrator in the Administration for Community Living, talked about the administration’s efforts to foster collaboration among relevant federal agencies. Ricardo Thornton, Sr. shared his past experiences living in Forest Haven, an institution in Washington, DC. Mr. Thornton talked about his transition to the community, his job, his church membership, and his family. His testimony was eloquent and moving:
When we were in the institution, we didn’t have a voice. We were thought to be incompetent so no one took the time to teach us things. But people can accomplish great things with support. Having an intellectual disability doesn’t limit what you can contribute. Being put in institutions limits what people can do and guarantees that people will be dependent for the rest of their lives.
Also testifying about successful community integration were:
- Rita Landgraf, Secretary, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (formerly Executive Director of The Arc of Delaware), and
- Zelia Baugh, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Mental Health.
Statements of all the witnesses can be found at the HELP committee website.
To commemorate the anniversary of the Olmstead decision, DOJ created a website called the “Faces of Olmstead” that highlights some of the people whose lives have been changed because of the Olmstead decision and DOJ’s enforcement efforts.