May 2019 Newsletter
May 05

May 2019 Newsletter


May 28, 2019

Partnership and collaboration are critical to achieving the Center’s mission. We hope that our newsletter helps inform and empower you to take action in your area. Email to discuss how to improve special education in charter schools near you.

The Center’s Executive Director Lauren Morando Rhim urges Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and the KY General Assembly to include language in proposed Freedom Scholarship legislation to guarantee that schools accepting the scholarships follow IDEA. She cites the Principles of Equitable Schools adopted by the Center’s Equity Coalition and encourages policymakers to “prioritize these principles as they develop any legislation expanding school choice.”
Following the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates’ lawsuit victory last month, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) can no longer delay the implementation of Equity in IDEA regulations. States will be expected to calculate significant disproportionality in special education. The announcement, however, notably offers neither timetables nor additional resources. In this Education Dive article, Morando Rhim encourages ED to “work with states and provide proper technical assistance to ensure the data for the 2018-2019 school year accurately reflects the status of children with disabilities so they can receive the intervention the law provides.”
The United States Government Accountability Office released a report last month finding that differences in states’ eligibility criteria – in addition to difficulties in identifying and evaluating children suspected of having disabilities – may contribute to differences in the percentages of children receiving special education services across states. Concerns about identification and evaluation continue to be raised by media, experts, and advocates, particularly as they relate to both overrepresentation and underrepresentation of students of color in special education.
Writer and parent ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson wrote a commentary piece for Education Post focusing on lessons she learned after attending an “autism family workshop.” She shares how her “brilliant, perceptive neurodiverse daughter functions in a neurotypical world” and shows her family who she is through her communication, sensory needs, and academics.
Advocacy group the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) has selected the first four recipients of its “Seal of Authentic Representation” – ABC’s “Speechless,” CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans,” and two series on Netflix, “Special” and “The OA.” RFF President Jay Ruderman writes, “each of these television programs has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion of actors with disabilities, reflecting a deeper belief in the importance of representing diversity in all forms in popular entertainment.”
In a recent Vox article, journalist S.E. Smith explores the “inherently segregational nature to new access-oriented technologies,” many of which can be impractical, unsafe, nonfunctional, or expensive. S.E. identifies these tech “fixes” as yet another barrier to full equity and inclusion – “put[ting] the burden on the end user – the disabled person – rather than the people creating inaccessible conditions” and environments that are not welcoming to everyone.

The Center on the Road

If you will be at any of the following upcoming events, we look forward to connecting with you.

  • May 30 in New York, NY: National Campaign for Highest Need Students (Convening)
  • May 30-31 in New Orleans, LA: We Can Do Better Together:
    Developing a High Quality Continuum of Services for Students with Disabilities in New Orleans (Convening)
  • June 19-21 in Chicago, IL: Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions of Students with Disabilities: Linking Research, Law, Policy and Practice (Convening)
    • Session:
      • Disparate Discipline of Students with Disabilities and Proactive Changes to the Law to Foster Positive Outcomes
  • June 20-21 in Denver, CO: SISEP Active States Forum 2019
  • June 30-July 3 in Las Vegas, NV: National Charter Schools Conference
    • Sessions:
      • Charter Schools and Parent Advocates: A Natural Partnership for Students with Special Needs
      • What are the Enabling Conditions Required to Ensure Equity for Students with Disabilities?
      • Special Education Policy: Key Challenges and Opportunities
      • Seeing It Firsthand: Witnessing How Charter Schools Serve Students with Disabilities



Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Center's staff is currently working remotely. Please email with any questions and we will direct you to the appropriate member of our staff.Email Us