Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) today called for a bipartisan investigation into the effects school closures are having on children with disabilities, and state and local compliance with federal special education requirements.
In a letter to Chairs James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the Republican lawmakers wrote, “Students with disabilities are falling behind. States and localities are not meeting even the minimal requirements. We are hearing from parents across the U.S. whose children with disabilities are bearing the greatest burden as schools remain closed.”
School closures across the United States are adversely impacting students with disabilities and may violate federal law requiring schools to provide them with a “free appropriate public education.” There are more than seven million students with disabilities in the United States, constituting about 14 percent of national public school enrollment. Many special needs children benefit from consistent and attentive, in-person instruction and receive afternoon in-school therapy sessions. The lack of access to these services raises concerns about the impact on their mental health.
“The science is clear—it is safe to reopen schools. Getting all children back to full time, in-person instruction, especially those with special needs and disabilities, must be a bipartisan priority. If states or localities are violating federal civil rights laws to the detriment of students, they must be investigated, and their actions corrected. We call on you to put children over unions and science over politics. We must open an immediate, bipartisan investigation to ensure students’ needs are met and federal law is followed,” concluded the Republican lawmakers.