Response to the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Package
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) commends the Senate for passing legislation with much crucial assistance for the nation to address the impact of COVID-19. While this is a useful start, Congress must act quickly to provide additional assistance to schools to ensure that, until this crisis ends, all eligible students are receiving meals and health services that were previously provided at school, and effective and appropriate distance learning is available to all students.
NCYL remains concerned about the provision tucked into the bill that grants US Education Secretary DeVos the power to recommend which civil rights for children with disabilities should be undermined, and for how long. We fear for the harm to children with disabilities that would result from waivers of their legal right to a free appropriate public education based on their individual needs. No waivers were needed when schools were closed due to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. The reality is: states and districts around the country are finding innovative ways to make education happen for all their students, including children with disabilities as best as possible under the circumstances. DeVos should not recommend, and Congress should not adopt, any waivers that would disincentivize this innovation by lessening schools’ obligations to serve all students, including students with disabilities.