Appropriations Committee Passes Alexander Amendment to Protect Children with Disabilities

Alexander Says Stimulus Threatens to Displace Nearly 90,000 Students with Special Needs

Posted on January 28, 2009

The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to the proposed stimulus bill that would protect almost 90,000 students with disabilities from being displaced. “Without this amendment, this bill will reverse current law and displace up to 90,000 students with disabilities which could cost parents and school districts up to $900 million a year,” Alexander said at the Appropriations Committee markup of the Obama Stimulus package. “My amendment restores current law, allowing parents and school districts to send some students with special needs to private schools when that is best for the child. We should not restrict school districts from using funds currently authorized under federal law – it’s a step in the wrong direction and will uproot tens of thousands of students.” Currently under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents of students with disabilities are able to send their child to a private school with federal funds if the school district is unable or unwilling to provide that student a free, appropriate public education. Alexander’s amendment restores this ability which is stripped away in the Obama Stimulus. The Alexander Amendment was adopted unanimously by the Committee. Alexander is a former U.S. Secretary of Education, and also serves as the senior Republican on the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP).