May 31st, 2022

May 2022 Policy News Round Up

The Mental Health Matters Act was approved by the House Education & Labor Committee, a state bill on college accommodations was passed in Arizona, OCR announced intent to review 504 regulations, a virtual summit on students with disabilities and mental health, and hearing on teacher shortages. See how NCLD worked on behalf of students with disabilities this month.

The Mental Health Matters Act, Which Includes the RISE Act, Approved by the Education & Labor Committee

On May 18, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee approved the Mental Health Matters Act. This is a comprehensive piece of legislation that serves to address the mental health crisis for students, workers, and families. The RISE Act, which would streamline the process of obtaining accommodations in college, is included within this bill (see Title V). The next step is for the bill to be considered by all members of the House of Representatives.
Read more here.

State Bill in Arizona Passes to Improve Access to Accommodations in College

A state bill modeled after the RISE Act was passed on May 18 in Arizona. This is a bill that requires colleges and universities in the state to accept a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan as proof of a disability when obtaining accommodations. Colleges and universities are also required to share the policies adopted to meet the requirements of HB 2031 with students, faculty, and the public in accessible formats. 

Office of Civil Rights Announces Intent to Amend Section 504 Regulations 

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is currently seeking suggestions from the public about how to best improve the current regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 is a law aimed at eliminating discrimination on the basis of disability in any program receiving federal assistance. Since being signed in 1977, the Department of Education’s Section 504 regulations have remained, with a few exceptions, unaltered. no changes have been made to the regulations. NCLD and other disability rights groups are working together to provide comprehensive recommendations on ways in which to strengthen these regulations to ensure individuals with disabilities do not face discrimination in all aspects of life.  

See here for more information or to provide comments.

ED Hosted Virtual Summit for Supporting Mental Health and Students with Disabilities

On May 24, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a first-of-its-kind summit to iterate steps to support students with disabilities and mental health needs as we emerge from the pandemic. During the event, NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council member Brody Mandelbaum presented on a panel about web and digital accessibility. The event also highlighted using COVID-19 relief funds to provide mental health services and supports in schools and institutions of higher education.

Appropriations Committee Holds Hearing on Addressing Teacher Shortages

On May 25, the House Appropriations Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee held a hearing to look for ways to address the nation’s educator shortage crisis. 48 states and the District of Columbia reported shortages of special education teachers. The witness list included longtime NCLD partner, Dr. Jane West, who provided testimony about the shortage crisis of educators of students with disabilities and the importance of increasing funding for the IDEA Part D personnel preparation program for FY 2023, which NCLD also supported in our appropriations request. 

View the hearing and the witnesses’ testimony here.

In Case You Missed It

  • For a second year, NCLD will award 12 COVID-19 impact scholarships to current college students. Applications close on June 19, 2022. 
  • NCLD will recognize the achievements of one courageous and innovative educator and one administrator for this year’s Everyday Champion Awards. Nominations close on July 11, 2022.
  • A new study highlights the disparities in IDEA funding. The researchers evaluated the distribution of IDEA Part B funds and found that states with proportionally larger populations of children experiencing poverty, children identified for special education, and non-white students receive fewer IDEA dollars.

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