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April 28, 2020Advocacy Matters

Advocacy Matters: Secretary DeVos Submits Waiver Request to Congress 

April 28, 2020 


#AdvocacyMatters Segment 

Update: U.S. Department of Education Secretary DeVos Submits Waiver Request to Congress


Your listeners and special education advocates across the country have something to celebrate this afternoon.

The U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submitted a list of education waiver requests to the U.S. Congress.  However, Secretary DeVos did not request a waiver to critical components of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act).  

Secretary DeVos specifically declined to recommended to Congress to waive the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of IDEA.

In a strongly-worded statement, Secretary DeVos stated that there is no reason for Congress to waive any provision designed to keep students learning and that the nation’s educators and schools can continue to faithfully educate every one of its students.  

Yesterday was the deadline for the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to submit any waiver requests to Congress seeking changes to special education rules during COVID 19.  

On the other hand, Secretary DeVos is recommending that Congress waive the 15% set aside in OVR for pre-employment transition services.  We spoke about this issue on your show the other week.

We believe if students are still learning and are receiving a free and appropriate public education, then students should have access to pre-employment transition services.  

Secretary DeVos agreed with 97 OVR agencies and asked Congress to waive the 15% set aside over a concern that students and vendors are not available and there will be a resulting drop in demand and OVR agencies will be unable to expend the 15%.

Our concern is that OVR agencies will walk away from pre-employment transition services versus just being concerned about not meeting the 15% set aside.  

What can special education advocates do?  #AdvocacyMatters.

First, we have to go to Congress and tell them not to approve the waiver request for OVR.

Second, parents should still request pre-employment transition services per their IEPs, and advocates, like Disability Rights Pennsylvania, must meet with OVR agencies to advocate for full implementation of the PETS program.