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Public Policy Matters:  COPAA works to protect the civil rights and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 6 million children with disabilities eligible for IDEA and the over 700,000 children with 504 plans in America. COPAA believes that every child has the right to high-quality education and an equal opportunity to achieve his or her full academic potential. Our members support tens of thousands students with disabilities and their families each year. 


As a result of our collective effort elected officials are very aware of the strength and commitment that exists across the country for students with disabilities and their families.

2019 COPAA Policy Priorities


Access and Civil Rights


  • Ensuring excellence, equity and an individualized education utilizing evidence-based practices for students with disabilities;
  • Safeguarding the protections of IDEA, Section 504 and ADA;
  • Enforcing State compliance with the IDEA and ESSA;
  • Ending discrimination toward students with disabilities in school choice and charter school programs;
  • Creating seamless transition for students with disabilities from infancy to post- secondary life.


  • Fully funding the IDEA;
  • Protecting IDEA formula funding to states from being used as a source to pay for federal voucher programs;
  • Ensuring federal public education funds are not used to pay for federal school choice programs;
  • Safeguarding federal education funds to ensure they are used only for purposes outlined in the funding statute(s), e.g. IDEA and ESSA. 

School Climate

  • Leading initiatives that stop the overuse of exclusionary disciplinary practices, especially seclusion and restraint;
  • Creating positive school environments with staff trained in techniques that are student-centered, trauma-informed, promote social and emotional well-being, and lead to students who can be safely engaged in learning;
  • Ensuring that school safety personnel and law enforcement officers receive comprehensive training to enable them to maintain a safe and positive school climate and to interact effectively and appropriately with students with disabilities by understanding the different types of disabilities, the impact that disability may have on behavior, and the relationship between disability, behavior and communication.
  •  Promoting policies that protect children from violence in the classroom and ensuring that no governmental policy funds, promotes or supports teachers becoming the first line of defense against violent perpetrators


Get Involved

The U.S. Congress, White House, U.S. Department of Education and your local legislators are making decisions that impact the funding, access, instruction, accommodations and support students and young adults with disabilities receive in Pre-K to higher education.  We will keep you informed so you can take action to promote policies that protect and support the civil rights and strengthen accountability in order to assure high quality educational services for children and young adults with disabilities.



The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations (including in higher education), commercial facilities, and transportation.



The Every Student Succeeds Act - ESSA (which amended The Elementary and Secondary Education Act) provides funding to U.S. K-12 schools to ensure a quality public education for all students. ESSA authorizes funds for professional development, instructional materials, resources to support educational programs, and for promotion of parental involvement.



The Higher Education Act authorizes funding for colleges and universities, targeted grant programs, scholarships, transition programs for students with intellectual disabilities as well as low-interest loans and financial aid for students.



The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.


Section 504

Section 504 is a civil rights law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education. The child may receive accommodations and modifications.



The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act is designed to help all job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workforce they need.


COPAA's public policy work, at the state and national level, is steered by our Government Relations Committee, under the direction of the COPAA Board. We currently engage with the firm Stride Policy Solutions to represent our policy interests in Washington, D.C.

Recent Policy Letters


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