Weeklong Outage of Government Special Education Website Leads to Public Outcry
Jun 28, 2017
San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) June 28, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Education website that explains the federal law for students with disabilities is now operational after being down for some time.
The government website went offline after the Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. It crashed at an inopportune time on DeVos’ first full day in office. The incident heightened the concerns of advocates and families of special needs children who were already doubtful of her commitment to special education.
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos acknowledged being confused about the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that has governed special education for 42 years. IDEA is a law that allows children with disabilities to a “free appropriate public education.” Advocates questioned her understanding of the law and desire to enforce it.
“The IDEA website is a crucial resource for families of special needs children,” said nationally known special needs attorney Michael Gilfix. “It allows parents and educators to quickly and easily find the information they need and explains the rights of children with disabilities under IDEA. The federal law exists to protect education programs for special needs students.”
Visitors to the site were redirected to a webpage with limited information available, according to news reports. Federal officials explained the IDEA website was plagued with technical glitches and went offline because it had an unstable server that could crash at any time. They said the department was working on “moving files to a viable hosting solution.”
Education Department officials tried to dismiss social media rumors that claimed the special education website had been shut down on purpose. They blamed the outage on server problems while assuring people it would be restored as quickly as possible. The website provides parents, teachers and those who work with disabled students with useful resources about student rights under IDEA such as videos and training materials.
DeVos later issued a statement about the outage, claiming the IDEA website was “neglected for nearly four years.” However, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten argued her claim was “patently false” as the site had been regularly updated throughout the Obama administration.
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