PERSPECTIVES | US Supreme Court ruling, budget cuts and hikes, disability and health care

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
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It’s been a big month for disability rights as the new presidential administration tackles major budget and health care issues that directly affect the disability community. With a major US Supreme Court ruling in favor of a student with a disability, proposed budgets that both potentially help and complicate matters for people with disabilities, and medical questions arising around the “value” of people with disabilities, there is plenty of information to decipher.
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Endrew v. Douglas County: What it means for your student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program)
Last week, the US Supreme Court voted unanimously to clarify the pre-existing learning expectations set by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA was originally written to ensure students with disabilities had access to public education, but did not specify the quality of that education.

The recent Endrew v. Douglas County ruling requires that students with disabilities receive a level of education comparable to their nondisabled peers. The decision has many advocates and parents celebrating.

Advocates are seeking to interpret what the ruling will mean for special education students. While the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Endrew’s family, it did not define measured progress for students with disabilities and continues to leave the burden of interpretation to parents, advocates, students, and educators.
Are people with disabilities left out of budget considerations?
Trump’s proposed budget slashes the Education Department’s funding by over 13 percent. Billions are planned to be invested in new “school choice” initiatives by changing longstanding formulas for Title I funding. Afterschool and summer programs are at risk of being cut and teacher training would be reduced greatly.

While funding for students with disabilities remains the same, major players in NYS Education Department and others are calling on both parties to reform the budget. Advocates want to make sure that the wellbeing of both students with disabilities and people with disabilities looking to live independently are taken into account.

Alternatively, NYC's proposed budget has increased education spending, including special education funding.
Disability and health care
It may have come as a relief to people with disabilities that the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act was taken off the House floor, which means Medicaid will remain untouched — for now.

Paul Corby, a young man with autism, and 30 members of Congress are fighting to address organ transplant discrimination. They are lobbying for it to be considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to deny transplants to potential recipients with disabilities.