December 9th, 2022

November Policy News Round-Up

NCLD continues to gather support for college accommodations access (RISE Act), looks ahead to the 118th Congress, and welcomes a new CEO. Learn more about what NCLD did this month.

Support for the RISE Act to Pass the U.S. Senate

Recap: In September, the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Mental Health Matters Act (H.R 7780). This bill would create fairer access to accommodations for college students with disabilities. This was enormous progress and a win for the many advocates that paved the way for this to happen, but the journey does not stop there. In order for the RISE Act to become law, it needs to pass the U.S Senate. 

While there hasn’t been a vote scheduled for the bill yet, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) all discussed the RISE Act in a recent Senate Committee hearing on mental health during the transition from high school to college.

It is not too late to act! Visit and use the template to send an email to your Senators today. The clock is ticking because if it does not pass the Senate before the start of 118th Congress in January, the legislative process will start over.

November’s Midterm Elections Will Bring Changes to Congress 

Republicans won the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the upcoming 118th Congress as a result of the midterm elections. In the Senate, Democrats will maintain power and won a 51-49 majority. 

These shifts will also spur changes in Congressional Committees and Subcommittees, where legislation originates including the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Sources indicate that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is set to be the new chair of the Senate HELP Committee in the upcoming Congress, with the new ranking member to be Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who is a lead cosponsor of the RISE Act. In the House, the Chair is likely to be Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) or Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and the Ranking Member is likely to be the current Chair Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). Finalized Committee assignments and leadership will be announced closer to the start of the new session.

NCLD Announces Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, Ph.D. as New CEO

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) announced the appointment of Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Rodriguez, Ph.D. as the organization’s incoming chief executive officer. She will begin the role effective January 2, 2023, with transition support from its chief operating officer, Dr. Kena Mayberry, Ph.D. 

Dr. Rodriguez brings a wealth of experience with a background in special education, non-profit management, and education law and policy. She joins NCLD from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), where she serves as vice president for research, policy, & advocacy overseeing the strategy and content development for the association’s research, programs and professional learning, state and federal policy, and advocacy initiatives. Prior to her tenure with AACTE, Dr. Rodriguez served as a special education teacher and university faculty member, preparing future special and general education teachers for K12 classrooms. 

Read more in NCLD’s full announcement. Welcome Dr. Rodriguez!

In Case You Missed It

  • U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reached an agreement with the Davis Joint Unified School District in California after the death of a child who was subjected to prolonged restraint. OCR reiterated that the district must make comprehensive changes to restraint and seclusion policies and training requirements in order to ensure students with disabilities a free appropriate public education.
  • Education Week published an article on a federal investigation that found schools in Fairfax County, Virginia failed to serve students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. NCLD’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Lindsay Kubatzky, is quoted.
  • NCLD released a new report called Unlocking Futures: Youth With Learning Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System that highlights the disparities that young people with disabilities face and offers policy recommendations for change. 

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