For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
WASHINGTON – In response to reports that the Department of Education (ED) convened a School Safety and Climate Summit without inviting stakeholders from the disability community, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) Executive Director Curt Decker issued the following statement:
“Today, the U.S. Department of Education convened an invitation-only School Safety and Climate Summit. NDRN was shocked to learn that ED did not include representatives from the disability community, despite the clear relevance that these topics have for students with disabilities.
“To be clear, to not include the disability community in conversations around school safety, school climate and school discipline is not only irresponsible, it also conveys a complete disregard and lack of understanding from ED about the complexity of these issues.
“For example, students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be suspended as their non-disabled peers, are more likely to be chronically absent, are almost four times as likely to be held back in high school, and while students with disabilities (served under IDEA) comprise 12% of the overall student population, they represent 67% of students subjected to restraint and seclusion.
“Additionally, NDRN has for years worked on issues around school climate, safety and discipline and has been very clear in articulating that many students with disabilities are members of more than one protected class. That ED also did not include representatives from other minority communities is outrageous. Any conversation on these critical topics must include all relevant stakeholder communities.
“NDRN considers the exclusion of the disability community at today’s summit to be narrow minded and shortsighted. A concrete and thorough examination of the issues can never occur when certain directly impacted stakeholders are excluded. These issues affect every student, parent and teacher in every school and are of paramount importance. ED quite simply can and must do better.”
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.