Under Questioning from Senator Hassan, Betsy DeVos Refuses to Commit to Enforcing the Law to Protect Students with Disabilities
DeVos Also Admits She Was Confused About Whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Is A Federal Law
WASHINGTON — Today, during the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, Senator Maggie Hassan questioned Mrs. DeVos on her commitment to protecting students who experience disabilities.
After describing how her son Ben, who experiences severe disabilities, was able to get a quality education at his local public school because of the countless advocates who fought to ensure that public schools would have adequate resources and protections for children like Ben, Senator Hassan pushed Mrs. DeVos on whether she would enforce the law in regards to students who experience disabilities.
The Senator explained that when students who experience disabilities receive a publicly-funded voucher to attend a private school, these students often do not receive adequate resources and may need to sign over their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Senator Hassan pressed Mrs. DeVos on whether or not she would enforce the IDEA and if she believes that families should have a recourse in the courts if their child’s education does not adequately meet his or her needs.
In response to Mrs. DeVos’s statement that if she is confirmed she will be very “sensitive to the needs of special needs students and the policies surrounding that,” Senator Hassan responded, “With all due respect, it’s not about sensitivity – although that helps. It’s about being willing to enforce the law to make sure that my child and every child has the same access to public education – high quality public education.”
Not only did Mrs. DeVos refuse to commit to enforcing the law to protect students with disabilities, but she also admitted that she was confused about whether the IDEA is a federal law.