Next week, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona is scheduled to deliver a major address at the Department of Education’s Lyndon Baines Johnson building in Washington, D.C. The speech entitled, “Raise the Bar: Lead the World,” will offer the Secretary the opportunity to lay out the Department’s priorities for 2023 and detail progress made on 2022 initiatives. Afterward, the Secretary will take part in a fireside chat with Executive Director of the National PTA Nathan R. Monell, CAE. The event will be streamed on the Department’s YouTube page.
1. House Republicans Slated to Re-Introduce Parents Bill of Rights
On Wednesday, Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), said she expects that one of Republicans’ first priorities on the committee will be legislation requiring K-12 school districts receiving federal funding to publicly post their curriculum and annually provide parents with a list of books in the school library, a breakdown of school expenditures, and more. The legislation, H.R. 6056 most commonly referred to as the “Parents Bill of Rights” is expected to be the focus of the committee’s first hearing. In an interview on Fox Business, Chairwoman Foxx said that parents “have a right to have a say in their children’s education, and we’re going to do everything we can to restore those rights.” The legislation was first introduced in the 117th Congress and is expected to be reintroduced in the coming weeks.
2. U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Perez Case
On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard90 minutes off arguments in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools (Case No. 21-887). The Perez family in 2017 filed a due-process complaint with the Michigan Department of Education based on the IDEA, the ADA, and other statutes. The school district offered to settle the IDEA complaint, and the family agreed. The settlement agreement included the district agreeing to place Perez in the Michigan School for the Deaf and pay for postsecondary compensatory education and sign-language services. Following the agreement, he family then sued the district in federal district court under the ADA, seeking unspecified money damages among other relief. The school district argued that the Perez family could not file the suit because they had not exhausted all administrative proceedings under IDEA- and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with the district. The Perez family then appealed and the U.S. solicitor general recommended the court grant review.The case raises two questions the first is whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires families who have settled their particular IDEA claims with a school district to “exhaust” all administrative proceedings under the that law before filing a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The second is whether a family must exhaust IDEA’s own administrative proceedings when it is pursuing a non-IDEA claim for money damages under the ADA or other federal disability laws.
The High Court appeared inclined to rule in favor of Mr. Perez, now 27, who sat in the front row of the public section of the courtroom during the arguments. Justice Elena Kagan said during the arguments that it appeared that, Mr. Perez, “did everything right” by accepting a settlement from his school district on his educational claims under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and then filing a lawsuit seeking monetary damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson suggested several times that the text of the IDEA provision at issue and its legislative history support Mr. Perez’s case. “At least as I read the statute, Congress is contemplating that you’ll have a situation in which there’s a civil action that’s seeking relief that is not available under the IDEA…So I take this to mean that Congress thought that dual actions at least in some circumstances were possible and that was fine.”
A decision in the case is expected by late June.
3. In the States: Florida Proposes to Expand Private Voucher Program
On Thursday, Republican leaders in the Florida state House unveiled new legislation that would significantly expand eligibility for the state’s programs offering students vouchers to attend private schools. The proposed changes to the voucher program would allow any student to be student to be eligible for state-funded tuition at a private school of their choice regardless of income. It would also pay parents who home-school. The legislation would also expand the voucher’s usages, allowing families to use the funds for private tutoring and specialized testing such as Advanced Placement exams, among other expenses.
House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) spoke with reports on Thursday regarding the proposal saying: “This is about educational freedom not telling you how you’re going to raise your children, how you’re going to educate your children. It’s about making sure that public education means empowering every child to customize the education that best suits their needs.”
Democrats for their part are not in favor of the bill. House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) said on Thursday: “There’s nothing in this bill that I like…I don’t think there’s much that my caucus would find that is palatable because we continue to take public taxpayer dollars and use them for these private purposes in a way I believe is unconstitutional.”
Hearings are set to begin on the bill next week. The Senate does not have a companion bill at this time.
4. New Resources for Educators
- Higher Ed Dive issued a brief on state higher education leader concerns. Results from a recent survey suggest that improving workforce development and addressing the teacher shortage are top priorities for leaders as the 2023 legislative sessions begin.