The following is a statement from the Virginia Coalition for Students with Disabilities regarding recently published proposed revisions to the Regulations Governing Special Education Services for Students with Disabilities in Virginia. This statement will be presented to the Virginia Board of Education during the Board's monthly meeting.
The Coalition encourages you to support this statement. A list of organizations and individuals that support the statement will be included with the statement when it is presented to the Board on Wednesday. To have your name or organization added to the list of supporters, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org < mailto:email@example.com > indicating your support and including your name and city of residence or the name of your organization and city. Your response is needed by November 1, 2007 to be included as a supporter on the statement.
To join in an ongoing discussion of the proposed revisions to the regulations you are encouraged to join River-VA on yahoogroups. This is a discussion group covering education issues for Virginia students with disabilities. To join River-VA send a message to River-Vafirstname.lastname@example.org < mailto:River-Vaemail@example.com > . You do not need to have a Yahoo email address to join the group.
STATEMENT TO THE VIRGINIA BOARD OF EDUCATION
by the VIRGINIA COALITION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
The Virginia Coalition of Students with Disabilities is disappointed with the proposed revisions to the Regulations Governing Special Education Services for Students with Disabilities in Virginia. Our initial assessment of the proposed revisions reveals that few of the changes would provide benefit to students with disabilities or their families. In fact, the proposed revisions significantly reduce critical protections and rights of many students.
In particular, we are dismayed by the proposed deletion of Virginia's long-standing provisions for parental consent. Family involvement, particularly for students with disabilities, is a critical component for maximizing independence and achieving the educational goals that Virginia has set forth for every student.
Changes to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004 reduced some of the federally required provisions for students with disabilities. When Congress amended IDEA in 2004, students and parents across the country were dismayed by the roll-back in long standing provisions. However, Congress allows States to go beyond the provisions in federal law. In reducing federal protections, Congress pushed to the States the responsibility of deciding whether certain rights and provisions would be provided in each State. Through its state regulations, Virginia chose to be a leader in protecting the rights of students and families and has stood by this principle for many years. As citizens of Virginia, we must now ensure that the Commonwealth continues to value and respect the provisions in state regulations that have protected students and families. There is no compelling need to retreat from the long-standing commitment the Commonwealth has had to students with disabilities.
If all students were provided with a free appropriate public education regulations such as these would not be necessary. Until students with disabilities receive the education services necessary for them to learn the basic education standards that the Board has established, and until more students graduate with meaningful diplomas, the current protections and provisions, including those that go beyond the floor of rights established by Congress, are necessary. The Commonwealth currently rises above the minimal federal provisions and must continue to do so. To repeal needed rights and other provisions is wrong. We ask for your continued commitment to students and their families.
In the coming weeks students, parents, and other advocates will be thoroughly analyzing the proposed revisions. We will work together to prepare public comment.