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2017 Policy Priorities
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The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, §501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates, parents and related professionals. COPAA members work to protect civil rights and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 6.5 million children with disabilities in America.


With over 1400 members nationwide, COPAA is at the forefront of special education advocacy. Access to quality representation and knowledgeable support levels the playing field for students and parents. COPAA is committed to creating a level playing field to ensure children with disabilities receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled and have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that is designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for post-secondary outcomes, community participation, and employment.



  • Each child must have quality, individualized services and supports to which they are entitled under the law.  

  • Robust and effective systemic enforcement of the law must be in place to increase compliance and reduce need for individual enforcement. 

  • Due process rights are essential to protect the civil rights of children with disabilities and Due Process must be affordable to IDEA eligible students and their families. 

The following is a list of our major policy areas for advocacy:


  • Safe, positive learning environments for children with disabilities.

  • Protect the due process rights of parents and students.

  • End the use of aversive interventions; including restraint and seclusion.

  • Ensure that the re-authorizations of ESEA (aka NCLB) and IDEA provide for meaningful and measurable education for children with disabilities.

  • Ensure that all students have access to high quality teachers, who are well trained particularly in the services needed by children with disabilities.

  • Block ESEA waivers that short-change students with disabilities.

  • Require charter schools to provide equal access and high quality education to children with disabilities.

  • Prevent schools from using discipline as an excuse not to provide education to students with disabilities.

  • Prevent schools from using Response to Intervention procedures to deny or delay students from eligibility for special education services.

  • Ensure that IEPs have measurable, challenging goals.

  • Stop out of level testing.

  • Ensure that children are evaluated promptly in all areas of suspected disability and that the right of parents to independent educational evaluations at public expense is safeguarded and enforced.

  • Ensure that FAPE means that the Student needs to make real, measurable progress on challenging and relevant goals.

  • Reinstate the right of prevailing parents to collect expert witness fees from school boards.

  •  Require school boards to carry the burden of proof in hearings to show that their proposed IEPs are appropriate.

  • Restore the right of parents to collect attorneys' fees from school district when their bringing of a due process hearing forces the district to provide what the student needs.

  • Make sure systemic progress monitoring is outcome-based, meaningful, and effective.

  • Require schools to provide the type of outcome-based transitional services mandated by Congress in 2004.

  • Ensure that more students with disabilities have the opportunity and supports necessary to realize full and meaningful participation in higher education. 



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