Special Education

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Report Delayed: A long-awaited federal report on discipline and special education students will not be released next month as originally planned.

Instead, officials at the General Accounting Office say they will wait to write the report until states have reported their discipline data to the U.S. Department of Education in November, as required under the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The report was commissioned in 1998 by two now-former members of Congress, Frank Riggs of California and Robert L. Livingston of Louisiana. The two House Republicans were hoping to further amend the IDEA's discipline provisions last year to give school officials more power to remove violent and disruptive students with disabilities from their schools. The report will study rates and problems associated with disciplining students with disabilities and compare them with discipline for their nondisabled peers.

Discipline has been one of the most contentious aspects of the 24-year-old special education law that guarantees all students with disabilities a free and appropriate education.

It's not unusual for GAO reports to be delayed or canceled. The main reason for the current delay is that states do not yet have the data needed to accurately compare the discipline rates, said Harriet Ganson, an assistant director for education issues at the GAO, which is the investigative arm of Congress. But under the IDEA amendments, states will be required to report such data.

The report's postponement was also affected by the Education Department's delay in issuing regulations for the revised IDEA, which affected many of the provisions on discipline. The final rules were issued in March, nearly a year behind schedule.

"We wanted to give it time to be in effect," Ms. Ganson said of the revised law.

New Director: The National Association of State Directors of Special Education has named Bill East the executive director of the Alexandria, Va., group.

Mr. East, who has been the group's deputy director for the past year, was the state director of special education in Alabama for eight years. He will replace Martha J. Fields, who is retiring this summer after six years in the post.

NASDSE President John Herner praised Ms. Fields' tenure and leadership in an announcement of the changes. He added: "Bill East is known for his leadership, ability to collaborate, and extraordinary dedication to the field of special education and to our organization."

--Joetta L. Sack [email protected]

Vol. 18, Issue 37, Page 14

Published in Print: May 26, 1999, as Special Education

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