We support programs and legislation that accomplish the below-listed endeavors.
Budget and Appropriations
NASDSE supports fully funding IDEA, which is congruent with Congress's intent to authorize the federal government to appropriate 40 percent of the excess costs of educating children with disabilities. Additionally, we advocate for increased investment in school infrastructure, both physical and systemic, and in funding across the education pre-K through post-secondary continuum to include educational supports and wraparound services.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is first and foremost a civil rights law, meant to protect the right of students with disabilities to be educated in the nation’s public schools. NASDSE supports upholding these rights and protections, including the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). NASDSE believes the federal role is to assist in ensuring equitable access to educational opportunities, supplement and support local efforts, and protect students from discrimination. Additionally, NASDSE promotes its Principles for IDEA and lays the groundwork for reauthorization in the future, while continuing to oppose piecemeal amendments to the law. NASDSE also addresses issues related to implementation as they occur, such as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA) and disproportionality, while identifying and working to eliminate barriers to educating students with disabilities.
NASDSE is committed to safeguarding the educational rights, opportunities, and well-being of all students, particularly those who have been marginalized, or whose needs have not been addressed. This is possible by ensuring that academic environments are safe and supportive, and free from restraint, seclusion, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence. Specifically, we advocate for students with disabilities to receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment regardless of disability, race, culture or background, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.
Restraint and Seclusion
All students should be treated with dignity and respect and are entitled to FAPE in an environment free from hurt or danger. Restraint and seclusion should not be used to manage behavior or provide discipline in any manner. NASDSE supports federal legislation that outlines evidence-based guidelines, procedures, and practices regarding seclusion and restraint, which should apply to all students. NASDSE supports the prohibition of chemical and mechanical restraints; physical restraint should only be used in school settings when a student's behavior poses the risk of imminent physical harm to self or others. NASDSE strongly opposes the use of prone or supine restraint, which puts pressure on the upper body or prevents a student from breathing or speaking. Federal legislation should support and fund the training of school personnel in appropriate, evidence-based uses of physical restraint, de-escalation, and positive behavior support practices and techniques.
NASDSE supports access to culturally competent, equitable, high-quality mental and behavioral school-based health services for all students, including prevention, early identification, tiered intervention, and wellness promotion. Because schools are frequently the hub of academic, social, and emotional life, the collaboration between schools, community partners, health agencies, and education agencies is paramount to providing school mental health services. NASDSE supports the need for increased federal funding for evidence-based, trauma-informed practices performed by qualified school personnel.
Shortages and Personnel Preparation
NASDSE addresses teacher shortages and personnel preparation through promotion of initiatives and legislation which elevate the teaching profession, support the development and ongoing training of all teachers and leaders, advocate for programs which ensure all teachers have the ability to educate all students, bolster recruitment and retention of educators and school instructional support personnel (SISP), and increase the capacity of and future pipeline for educators, school leaders and SISPs.
NASDSE supports legislation and regulations which uphold students' civil rights and protections under IDEA, including the right to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). We continue to advocate for the use of public funds by public schools. NASDSE also works to ensure schools receiving public funds are held accountable and promote transparency, access, and services and supports for students with disabilities, as mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and requirements for equitable services
NASDSE supports programs, legislation, and regulations that improve and enhance a positive school climate that is culturally relevant, conducive to social emotional learning, and promote safety on school property for school personnel, students, and their families. Safe and supportive school climates can be fostered by implementing positive behavior interventions and other multi-tiered systems of support and providing professional development for all school staff.
Medicaid in Public Schools
NASDSE works to ensure no detrimental changes are made to the funding or structure of the Medicaid program that would have adverse effects on the nation's public schools. Moreover, we continue to safeguard the sustainability of this funding stream and protect the spirit and intent of its use in providing services for students with disabilities.
All students, regardless of legal status, have the right to be educated and receive supports and services in the nation’s schools, in accordance with the IDEA. NASDSE supports this tenet and strongly upholds the right that students, their families, and school personnel must be safe from immigration raids on school property.
NASDSE is responsive to regulations, guidance, and other initiatives affecting the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Moreover, we endeavor to more closely align ESSA and IDEA to ensure they work in tandem to serve students with disabilities.
Virtual Schools/Online Learning
IDEA applies to virtual and online learning. NASDSE works to address issues regarding students with disabilities and online learning, including but not limited to lack of services, licensure of instructors, physical access, accountability, rigorous instruction, and LRE. Additionally, NASDSE has concerns with the overreliance in rural areas on virtual services, which is symptomatic of shortages.
Implementation of WIOA
NASDSE is opposed to the promotion of segregated settings and works to protect the ability of students with disabilities to access competitive integrated employment. Additionally, we support the elimination of 14(c) certificates and other barriers to successful employment outcomes. NASDSE continues to seek opportunities to connect education entities to vocational rehabilitation as WIOA implementation moves forward.
NASDSE supports universal, research-based, culturally diverse, and developmentally appropriate early childhood education and early intervention as a means of promoting positive outcomes and kindergarten readiness for all young children. Most importantly, inclusion and LRE are the cornerstones of effective and meaningful early childhood learning experiences, and more intentional work must be done to explore and create opportunities. Early learning takes place in collaboration with families and communities; consequently, services must be culturally and linguistically diverse and represent families' needs. NASDSE supports robust federal funding to help states build capacity for these efforts and provide all needed services and supports for early childhood special education.