A Summary of H.R. 1350 - IDEA
Reauthorization as Passed by the U.S. House by Congressman
George Miller (D-CA), Senior Democratic Member, House Education
and Workforce Committee
IDEA, May 6, 2003, Congressman George Miller (D-CA),
Senior Democratic Member, House Education and Workforce
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H.R. 1350: Eviscerates Parents' Civil Rights Breaks Promise to
Provide Desperately Needed Funding; Encourages Expulsion of
On Wednesday, April 30th the U.S. House of Representatives
passed H.R. 1350, the Republican IDEA Reauthorization bill, by a
vote of 251 to 171.
The bill passed largely along party lines. 96% of Republicans
voted for the bill; 87% of Democrats voted against it.
H.R. 1350 was introduced on March 19th. No hearings were held on
this bill (a general hearing on IDEA - the only IDEA hearing of
the 108th Congress - was held on March 13th, 6 days before the
bill's introduction. We joined with parents and advocates in
requesting subsequent hearings on the bill but were denied the
opportunity by Chairman Boehner).
The bill was the rushed through the legislative process. The
Education Subcommittee passed ("marked-up") the bill on April
2nd, and the Full Education Committee passed the bill a week
Virtually none of the recommendations made by parents of and
advocates for children disabilities were included in the bill
either in Committee mark-up or on the floor.
HR 1350 Policies: First, Do Harm
The bill as passed by the House still contains the very harmful
policy provisions that were discussed in previous issues of this
Places a Gag order on Parents - Parents would be barred from
raising new issues in defending the rights of their children at
due process hearings - even if new evidence has surfaced.
Places a Straight Jacket on Hearing Officers - Under the bill,
hearing officers (objective individuals who resolve disputes
between parents and school districts) would be barred from
judging whether school districts violate IDEA's procedural
protections for children with disabilities.
Institutes a One-year Statute of Limitations - Parents would be
denied the ability to raise problems with their child's
educational services after one year.
Allows States to Waive Longstanding Protections for Children and
Parents - Under the bill, 10 States could operate paperwork
reduction pilots. Criteria for these pilots are undefined and
could allow schools to not provide parents with substantive IDEA
documents, such as individualized education programs (IEPs) and
procedural safeguard notices.
Caps on Attorneys' Fees Reimbursement - The Republican bill
would require Governors to set the rate of attorneys' fees
reimbursement when a parent wins a due process hearing against a
school agency. This cap on attorneys' fees, which affects only
the parents, not the school district, will prevent low and
moderate income parents from acquiring legal representation to
protect the legal rights of their disabled children.
Broken Promises: No Additional IDEA Funding
A Democratic amendment to ensure that the funds promised for
special education are actually delivered was disallowed by the
House Republican leadership.
H.R. 1350 doesn't provide a single extra dime of funding for
IDEA. Claims that this bill puts us on the path to full funding
Despite many promises made in the last Congress about meeting
our 28-year-old responsibility to fully fund the special
education program, this bill fails to provide the necessary
funding, meaning additional strains on overburdened states and
local education budgets. In fact, H.R. 1350 actually caps the
amount of funding which Congress can provide for IDEA.
Little Changed During Floor Consideration
During floor consideration of HR 1350, no significant
changes were made.
Two voucher amendments were defeated, as was the Tancredo
amendment that would redefine the term specific learning
disability in a manner, which in effect would jeopardize
identification of children with disabilities.