Secretary of Education DeVos declines to seek Congressional FAPE and LRE waivers to IDEA
On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter to Congress from Secretary of Education DeVos indicating that she is not recommending Congress pass any waivers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during the COVID-19 crisis regarding the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
In the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Congress had requested that Secretary DeVos consider whether waivers were needed to provide limited flexibility to state and local education agencies during the coronavirus health emergency.
The letter states that as the Department of Education reviewed applicable Federal law, they did so with these core principles in mind:
1. The health and safety of America’s students, teachers, parents, and administrators is a top priority;
2. Learning must continue for all students;
3. Decision-making must be based on what is best for students, not the “system;”
4. Parents must be informed about the impact waivers will have on their children’s education and consent to those changes; and
5. Services typically or historically provided in person must naturally occur differently.
The letter specifies that Ms. DeVos has chosen not to seek waivers regarding the provision of a FAPE in the LRE because she has determined that there is no reason that a student's access to a FAPE cannot continue through distance instruction or other alternative means.
Please stay safe during the coronavirus health emergency.
Education Attorney Molly Watson
A special education law firm serving California families
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