Final IDEA Regulations Offer Clarity
Almost two years after the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in December 2004, the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations in August to guide its implementation. The 1,700-plus pages of regulations closely follow the language of the federal statute offering clarity on several important items.
NEA special education expert Patti Ralabate has reviewed the comprehensive set of regulations and drafted a preliminary analysis.
Ralabate noted that "NEA is pleased" that the final regulations responded to requests of NEA members for a clear definition of a new special ed teacher. Under the final rules, a new special ed teacher is "…one who was hired after the date of enactment of IDEA - or hired after Dec. 3, 2004."
However, regarding workload standards, she wrote, "NEA is disappointed that the regulations continue to ignore the important issue of caseload/class size standards for special educators."
And NEA disagrees with the Department of Education's position on alternative certification.
Ralabate wrote in her analysis, "NEA is disappointed that the regulations established the rule that individuals who do not intend to teach core academic subjects but who are making progress in an alternative route to certification can be deemed highly qualified as a special ed teacher even before completing the alternative route program. This provision first appeared in ESEA/NCLB and was repeated in IDEA 2004. We will continue to voice our strong objection to this loophole, which will now be codified as a result of these regulations. This policy is akin to saying that a first year law student who makes good grades can be deemed fit to practice law."
NEA's preliminary analysis focuses on four subject areas:
Definition of a "Highly Qualified" Special Education Teacher
Excusal from IEP Team Meetings
Definition of "Specific Learning Disability"