Stop Stealing the Future of Students With Disabilities

Target: Virginia Fox, Chair of House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Goal: Support increased funding for initiatives that aid special needs students with disabilities.

Over seven million kids, roughly 15 percent of America’s public school population, are in danger of being involuntarily taken out of school and deprived of a true education every year. These students are seemingly punished for having intellectual or learning disabilities. And their so-called informal removals violate their rights and federal law.

The New York Times recently brought attention to the issue by doing an extensive feature on this process, but the National Disability Rights Network has been sounding the alarm for years. Informal removals involve sending a child with a disability home early from school or preventing the child from attending school save for as little as one hour per week. Students are also often transferred between schools or sent to special education programs that do not even exist.

Since these removals are not formal suspensions, schools are not required to report them. Gaps in laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act are partially to blame, but a severe lack of funding for special education aides and other resources that could help these kids is the more consequential issue. The disproportionate impact of these processes on low-income schools and communities bears out this belief.

Sign the petition below to demand Congress start investing in the education of all children.


Dear Representative Fox,

Congress has passed laws that were touted as wins for students with disabilities. Yet decades later, untold numbers of special needs students are being removed from classrooms off the books and, as a result, falling woefully behind their peers in intellectual and social development. These children already have obstacles and barriers not shared by their classmates, and a broken system is exacerbating, not fixing, the problem.

Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act can make schools report informal removals, but this change will mean nothing if the schools do not have the support they desperately need to aid students with intellectual and learning disabilities. A sizeable percentage of these removals–that lead to students attending class for as little as one hour a week– are happening in low-income communities without the financial support and resources to create an optimal learning environment for all. Do not simply punish the schools for a lack of investment by legislators. Hold Congress accountable for not honoring its commitments to fund the parameters and guidelines set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Invest in these aims now. Change the narrative, and set a new course forward for the seven million young people with disabilities in America’s schools.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

One Comment

  1. People are people and everyone is entitled to an education. People with disabilities are usually capable of learning a skill. They must read and type. These students have skills which are there we just have to find them and then bring them out. Students have every right to feel proud of their accomplishments. We all do! Just because a child has a learning or physical disability is no reason to kick them out onto the streets. Everyone has a gift to give if given half a chance. Let’s make that happen.

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