WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced a bill that would help students with disabilities receive the support that they need to succeed in the classroom by ensuring that their rights are upheld.
“As a mother with a son who experiences disabilities, I learned firsthand the importance of advocacy to ensure that he received the support he needed in the classroom. My experience is far from unique, and we must make sure that the rights of people with disabilities are fully protected in all places, including at school,” said Senator Hassan. “This bill would enable Granite State students with disabilities and their parents to get help advocating for the education that they deserve – and are entitled to. I will continue to work to make sure that people with disabilities are fully included in our society.”
Senator Hassan’s bill creates a new program specifically dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities access the high-quality education that they are entitled to by law. Currently, there are seven Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) that are run through states that provide legal and advocacy support to people with disabilities to help them gain access to health care, employment, and other needs – the bill adds a specific program for education.
The bill is also being introduced in the House by Congressman DeSaulnier.
“Students with disabilities in New Hampshire and across the country are entitled to a free appropriate public education,” said Stephanie Patrick, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Disability Rights Center. “Every day, we receive calls from parents whose children are not getting the support they need from their local schools. These students need access to legal advocacy to enforce their rights, but our capacity to help is limited. On behalf of over 30,000 students with disabilities in New Hampshire, we thank Senator Hassan for introducing this important legislation.”
The bill is also supported by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN); the Center for Learner Equity; the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocate; the Advocacy Institute; the PACER Center; the National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE); and the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network.
Senator Hassan is committed to ensuring that Americans with disabilities can be fully included in their community. Senator Hassan recently led the NH Congressional Delegation in announcing $5 million in federal funds for the state to support seniors and individuals who experience disabilities and their caregivers. In February, Senator Hassan led colleagues in introducing a bill to restore full funding for educational and early-intervention services for children who experience disabilities. Senator Hassan successfully secured nearly $3 billion in dedicated federal funding to support students with disabilities in the American Rescue Plan.