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Back to School on Civil Rights

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January 25, 2000


January 25, 2000

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I am pleased to submit a report entitled Back to School on Civil Rights. This report is the second in a series of independent analyses by NCD of federal enforcement of civil rights laws.

The series grew out of NCD's national policy summit of a diverse group of more than 300 leaders from the disability community, where the participants called on NCD to push for more effective enforcement of existing civil rights laws. NCD produced the first report, Enforcing the Civil Rights of Air Travelers with Disabilities, in March 1999. The third report on enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act will be released in spring 2000.

Back to School on Civil Rights looks at more than two decades of federal monitoring and enforcement of compliance with Part B of IDEA. Overall, NCD finds that federal efforts to enforce the law over several Administrations have been inconsistent and ineffective. Despite the important efforts of your Administration to be more aggressive than any of its predecessors in addressing these compliance problems, failures to ensure local compliance with Part B requirements continue to be widespread and persist over many years. Enforcement of the law is too often the burden of parents who must invoke formal complaint procedures and request due process hearings to obtain the services and supports to which their children are entitled under law. The report includes recommendations for your Administration and Congress that would build on the1997 reauthorization of IDEA.

NCD stands ready to work with you and all public and private stakeholders to address the problems identified in this report and to advance a federal approach to enforcement that results in improved compliance and better outcomes for children and families, so that the nation's 25-year-old commitment to effective education for all children will be more fully realized.

In your 1997 State of the Union address, you made clear that your number one priority is to ensure that all Americans have the best education in the world. We share your commitment.


Marca Bristo

(This same letter of transmittal was sent to the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.)



Marca Bristo, Chairperson
Kate P. Wolters, First Vice Chairperson
Hughey Walker, Second Vice Chairperson

Yerker Andersson, Ph.D.
Dave N. Brown
John D. Kemp
Audrey McCrimon
Gina McDonald
Bonnie O'Day, Ph.D.
Lilliam Rangel-Diaz
Debra Robinson
Shirley W. Ryan
Michael B. Unhjem
Rae E. Unzicker
Ela Yazzie-King


Ethel D. Briggs, Executive Director
Mark S. Quigley, Public Affairs Specialist
Kathleen A. Blank, Attorney/Program Specialist
Geraldine Drake Hawkins, Ph.D., Program Specialist
Allan W. Holland, Accountant
Brenda Bratton, Executive Secretary
Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant