Department of Education Invites Special Education Planning Grant Applications

This week, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services invited states to apply for planning funding designed to help them increase instructional time and reduce administrative burdens. The grant program seeks to promote academic achievement for students with disabilities by providing technical assistance, supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically based research. The estimated available funds for this program total $1,500,000. The Department will not make an award exceeding $150,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. Applications are due by August 14, 2019 and further information is available here.

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Department of Education Publishes IDEA Implementation Letters

The Department of Education released their “2019 Determination Letters on State Implementation of the IDEA”. IDEA requires every state to write a State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report evaluating its efforts to implement the law and plans for improving its implementation activities. The law outlines four general categories for the Secretary of Education to evaluate the state’s work:

·       Meets the requirements and purposes of IDEA;

·       Needs assistance in implementing the requirements of IDEA;

·       Needs intervention in implementing the requirements of IDEA; or

·       Needs substantial intervention in implementing the requirements of IDEA.

School board members can review their state’s determination status on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

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Committee to Examine School Safety Practices, including Related Student Data Use

On July 25, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Examining State and Federal Recommendations for Enhancing School Safety Against Targeted Violence”.  Among other topics, the committee plans to examine emerging state and local efforts to use student data to promote school safety. The hearing was prompted, in part, by growing concern about a Florida plan to create a statewide school safety database.

In 2018, Florida lawmakers approved a law placing notable new requirements on school districts, including an obligation to share a vast array of sensitive, personally identifiable student data with law enforcement and state agencies. Responding to an inquiry by Education Week, the Florida Department of Education (FDE) said that covered data could include students’ course schedules, participation in scholarship and dropout-prevention programs, past homeless status, immunization status, and even the Individualized Education Plans of students in special education. The new law requires FDE to coordinate with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create “a centralized integrated [student] data repository” and data analytics resource. The student data repository’s purpose is to help leaders make decisions about students that may pose a public safety threat. By law, the database must include – but is not limited to – “timely, complete, and accurate information” about students from social media, the Florida Department of Children and Families, FDE, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and local law enforcement.

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Congressional Update – New K-12 Bills

Federal Weekly Advocacy Update

Notable New K-12 Bills

  • H.R.3692To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide greater access to higher education for America’s students, to eliminate educational barriers for participation in a public service career, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Torres, Norma J. [D-CA-35]
  • H.R.3689To prohibit States from suspending, revoking, or denying State-issued professional licenses or issuing penalties due to student default. Sponsor: Rep. Shalala, Donna E. [D-FL-27]
  • H.R.3674To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to eliminate origination fees for Federal Direct Loans. Sponsor:Rep. Davis, Susan A. [D-CA-53]
  • H.R.3667To create a new Federal grant program that provides grants to State libraries to allow schools with summer lunch programs to keep their libraries open for student use during the summer months. Sponsor:Rep. Morelle, Joseph D. [D-NY-25]
  • H.R.3662To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to ensure that student borrowers are provided relief from their student loans in the instance of substantial misrepresentation or omission by an institution of higher education. Sponsor:Rep. McBath, Lucy [D-GA-6]
  • H.R.3659To establish an Anti-Bullying Roundtable to study bullying in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Rose, Max [D-NY-11]
  • H.R.3647To provide temporary impact aid construction grants to eligible local educational agencies, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Cox, TJ [D-CA-21]
  • S.2085A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs about the Holocaust, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Sen. Rosen, Jacky [D-NV]
  •  S.2070A bill to create a new Federal grant program that provides grants to State libraries to allow schools with summer lunch programs to keep their libraries open for student use during the summer months. Sponsor:Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR]
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Federal Administration Updates

FCC Votes to Allow School Airwaves to be Opened up for Next Generation 5G

Ignoring the Department of Education, Members of Congress, and state and local education leaders, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to forgo granting new Educational Broadband Service licenses and instead commercialize the spectrum.  The FCC noted plans to provide rural tribal nations the opportunity to acquire the unassigned/unused airwaves but will then auction off the remaining airwaves. NSBA will be carefully monitoring this situation going forward and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Additional FCC Action:The FCC also  released a new and additional NPRM this week concerning E-Rate separate from the one calling for an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund. This NPRM seeks comments on how to continue the category two funding approach adopted in earlier reforms when E-Rate was expanded and modernized. The date for comments and reply comments has not been determined at this time.

 

New Data Released from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil rights announced “New Data Show Secretary DeVos’ Reforms to the Office for Civil Rights are Driving Better Results for Students”. The announcement, which shows USED has cut the backlog of civil rights complaints in the past year, had been met with controversy.

 

Department of Education Issues Final Rule to Align ESEA and ESSA Regulations

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a final rule, with a request for comments, to align existing Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) regulations with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA.) The final rule would align the regulations in 34 CFR Part 200 relating to Title I of ESEA and part 299 relating to general provisions of ESEA after changes were made by ESSA. These regulations make technical changes only, and one additional change to align section 200.64 with the US Constitution after the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc. v. Comer. The regulations are effective July 1, 2019 and comments are due by August 1, 2019. Further information is available here.

 

Department of Education Publishes Discretionary Grant Program Notices:

USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education:

  • “Applications for New Awards: Trauma Recovery Demonstration Grant Program” – These competitive grants seek to support “model programs that enable a student a from low-income family who has experienced trauma that negatively affects the student’s educational experience to access the trauma-specific mental-health services from the provider that best meets the student’s needs.” The estimated funds available for this program total $5,000,000. Applications for this grant program are available on August 14, 2019 and further information is available here.

USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services:

  • “Applications for New Awards: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Model Demonstration Projects for Early Identification of Students with Dyslexia in Elementary School” – The purpose of this grant program is to support professionals to collaborate with parents and establish high expectations for students with, or at risk for, dyslexia. The estimated available funds for this program total $1,200,000, contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due by August 5, 2019 and further information is available here.

USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education:

  • “Applications for New Awards: Expanding Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Program – Grants to Charter School Developers for the Opening of New Charter Schools and for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools” – This grant program provides funds to charter school developers to enable them to open new charter schools or replicate or expand high-quality charter schools. This grant program is limited to charter school developers in states that do not currently have a CSP State Entity grant. If a state has a CSP SEA grant, it is limited to charter school developers applying for grants for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools, and only if the SEA’s grant application authorizes the SEA to make subgrants for replication and expansion. Estimated available funds for this program total $14,460,000. Final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for use in this competition are available here. Applications for this grant program are due by August 2, 2019 and further information is available here.
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Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update

Negotiations Over Budget Intensify as Debt Ceiling Looms

Congress and the Administration were shaken out of their budget stalemate this week after the Department of the Treasury announced that the US may hit the debt ceiling as early as the week of September 9, only a couple of days after the House and Senate return from August recess. With a looming deadline and very little time left to figure out a solution, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke several times this week with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and conversations are ongoing between Democratic House and Republican Senate leadership. It is too early to tell if negotiations will be successful, but there is increasing pressure to pass something prior to the August recess, and it is encouraging that all parties are speaking again just one week after Pelosi had indicated that talks had broken  down.

House Ed & Labor Committee Plans Three Education Hearings

The House Education & Labor Committee has a busy week of hearings planned, as Congress looks to get through as much business as possible prior to the August recess set to begin in two weeks. The hearings include:

  • Tuesday, July 16 (10:15am ET)– The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment is holding a hearing titled “Scaling Up Apprenticeships: Building on the “Success of International Apprenticeship Models””. Witnesses have not yet been announced.  Watch the livestream here.
  • Tuesday, July 16 (2pm ET)– The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services is holding a hearing titled “Strengthening Federal Support to End Youth Homelessness”. Witnesses have not yet been announced.  Watch the livestream here.
  • Wednesday, July 17 (10:15am ET)– The House Education and Labor subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education and Workforce Investment are holding a joint subcommittee hearing titled “Educating our Educators: How Federal Policy Can Better Support Teachers and School Leaders”. Witnesses have not yet been announced.  Watch the livestream here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gov. Walz orders flags at half-staff in honor of conservation officer

Flag-HalfStaff

Source: Office of Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

In honor and remembrance of Red Lake Conservation Officer Shannon Barron, Gov. Tim Walz has ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset today, Thursday, July 11, 2019.

Conservation Officer Barron died on duty when he suffered a medical emergency while responding to a call. He served 23 years with the Red Lake Department of Public Safety and leaves behind a wife, two children, the aunt who raised him, and many friends and family.

“Conservation Officer Barron was an outstanding conservation officer who was admired and respected by his colleagues, and served with dignity and pride,” reads the proclamation issued by Governor Walz. “The State of Minnesota recognizes Conservation Officer Barron for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow citizens with its deepest gratitude, and all thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and entire community of Red Lake.”

At the direction of the governor, Minnesota flies its flags at half-staff following the death of Minnesota first responders fallen in the line of duty, on the day of interment.

View a copy of Gov. Walz’s proclamation.

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