Two Democratic senators, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray, are demanding an explanation for why the Department of Education removed a website for disabled students on Education secretary Betsy DeVos’ watch.
The site was dedicated to assisting students with disabilities and their families and was focused on empowerment.
In a press release on Friday, the two senators called for DeVos to “provide an immediate and detailed explanation for why the resource website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has disappeared.”
They also explained that, “the Department’s failure to keep this critical resource operational makes it harder for parents, educators, and administrators to find the resources they need to implement this federal law and protect the rights of children with disabilities.”
The website was initially set up under Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education under former President George W. Bush. The goal of the IDEA site was to provide a one-stop-shop where educators, students, parents, and advocates could get explanation on the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
In their statement, Cantwell and Murray praised the site, saying that it, “has provided accessible and informative summaries of the law, training materials, sample educational forms, presentations for the public, and so many other user-friendly resources.”
When individuals attempt to visit the site now, they are redirected to a site that contains considerably less information than was available on the original IDEAs site.
Unfortunately, the fact that the Department of Education took this course of action is not surprising. During her confirmation hearing in January, DeVos was explicitly asked about the IDEA by former Democratic presidential candidate Tim Kaine. However, she seemed to be confused about the act and could not say with confidence that she believed that all schools that receive federal funding should be required to meet the requirements of the IDEA.
As the Washington Post reports, the two had a heated exchange in which DeVos simply could not commit her support to the act.
Kaine responded: “So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good and, what then, people can just move around the country if they don’t like how kids are being treated?”
Devos repeated: “I think that’s an issue that’s best left to the states.”
Kaine said: “What about the federal requirement? It’s a federal law, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act,” and he repeated his question.
DeVos began speaking about a Florida voucher program for students with disabilities that requires students to sign away their IDEA due process rights.
Kaine interrupted her saying, “Just yes or no.” But she continued, saying many parents are happy with the program. Kaine persisted: “I think all schools that receive federal funding — public, public charter, private — should be required to meet the conditions” of IDEA. He asked if she agreed.