CEC Hosts Officials and Key Staff from the U.S. Department of Education at 2020 Convention & Expo
Last week, CEC was pleased to welcome officials from two offices at the U.S. Department of Education as part of a series focused on policy and advocacy at the CEC 2020 Convention & Expo in Portland, OR.
In a session focused on the priorities of the Administration, Kimberly Richey, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), outlined activities led by OCR on behalf of students with disabilities and their families including two new initiatives:
- January 2019 – Restraint and Seclusion: An initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in schools. OCR, in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), launched a proactive approach to protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance (TA) and support to schools, districts and state education agencies, and strengthen enforcement activities. Recently, OCR released a webinar to explain the initiative and help states reach out for TA. You can review materials and view the webinar here.
- January 2020 – OPEN Center: OCR has just announced the launch of the Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN) Center which intends to focus on proactive compliance with federal civil rights laws. According to Ms. Richey, the OPEN Center will provide assistance and support to schools, educators, families and students to ensure better awareness of the requirements and protections of federal non-discrimination laws and to provide TA to states to prevent discrimination of students. The OPEN Center is led by Acting Director Christian Corrigan and will be staffed by OCR attorneys. Inquiries can be sent to OPEN@ed.gov. You can also read about the OPEN Center here.
As CEC members know, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is currently led by Director Laurie VanderPloeg who is also a past president of CEC. Presently, conflict of interest policies do not allow Director VanderPloeg to meet formally with CEC for some time. Therefore, the OSEP Research to Practice Director, Larry Wexler, stepped in to help by sharing priorities from Director VanderPloeg as well as giving an update on the portfolio of research investments that he leads. Highlights from Director Wexler included:
- Effective Personnel for ALL: Attract, Prepare, Retain: An initiative designed to support States in their work to address personnel shortages. Led by Director VanderPloeg, this work includes summits, webinars and online resources and stakeholder gatherings including researchers, national organizations and practitioners. OSEP’s goal is to synthesize and share innovative solutions that are making a difference in assisting States in their efforts to build and sustain a strong, effective educator workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to provide the quality education each child deserves. Online resources can be found here.
- OSEP’s Research to Practice discretionary investments total approximately $250 million and are authorized under Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. They include:
- Personnel Develop Grants
- TA and Dissemination Grants
- State Personnel Development Grants
- Parent Training and Information Grants
- Education Technology and Media Grants
- TA Center: State Data Collection.
Read details about OSEP’s discretionary grants, priorities for use of funds and funding cycles here.