IDEA Summit to Discuss Goals for Children with Disabilities

July 21, 2002

For 26 years, children with disabilities have been guaranteed a free appropriate public education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1997, the act was revised and now calls for children with disabilities to reach the same level of achievement as their non-disabled peers.  

In an effort to address this new expanded goal, the West Virginia Department of Education, Office of Special Education, is hosting the IDEA Summit on July 22-24 in Charleston. Currently, there are approximately 55,000 children in the Mountain State who receive special education services.  

The Office of Special Education applied for a grant to the IDEA Partnership so it could host the meeting and was one of three states in the nation to be approved. Colorado and Louisiana also received funds to host a meeting.  

“This is our first attempt at bringing parents, advocates, teachers, related service providers, administrators, paraprofessionals and policymakers together to discuss issues that affect special education,” said Kay Johnston, Coordinator with the Office of Special Education. “We want to provide an opportunity for these diverse stakeholders to engage in joint discussions and problem-solving around key-issues related to the implementation of IDEA in West Virginia. We hope this Summit will help support improved communication between and among the partners and help them prepare for IDEA reauthorization.”  

Participants in the summit will participate in discussions regarding such topics as standards based reform, discipline and school climate and teacher shortage in the area of Special Education. A panel discussion on how higher education is addressing teacher education for special education is also included. During the meeting, attendees will discuss how to develop positive school/parent partnerships and provide an overview of the new federal legislation, No Child Left Behind, which aims at providing all children an equitable education.  

The Summit will conclude with a general session on the reauthorization of IDEA. Dr. Robert Pasternack, Assistant Secretary with the Office of Special Education of the United States Department of Education, will share with the participants his views and opinions on the evolution of special education and key issues facing parents of children with disabilities.  

For more information regarding the IDEA Summit, please contact the Office of Special Education at 304-558-2696.

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