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Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo

Representing the People of Guam

Bordallo Introduces Special Education Funding Bill for Guam Students with Disabilities

September 12, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) introduced the “IDEA Parity for Outlying Areas Act” (H.R.6770), which would increase federal funding for special education in public schools on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Freely Associated States.


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Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would amend the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to better support youngsters and students with physical, developmental, and learning disabilities in the four smaller U.S. territories and the Freely Associated States: jurisdictions classified as “Outlying Areas” by the U.S. Department of Education. More than 7,177 students with disabilities in the outlying U.S. territories and Freely Associated States would benefit from increased federal support under the Congresswoman’s bill.

Under IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education provides local public school systems with annual federal funding for special education and assistive services for students age 3 to 21 years old. This federal funding pays for in-school services and accommodations for some 2,020 students with disabilities on Guam, each year. For the 2018-2019 school year, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $15.6 million in federal IDEA funding to the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) for students and youngsters with developmental disabilities. This federal IDEA funding award also supports Guam infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities, as well as their families.

Under current law, the U.S. Department of Education is supposed to set aside a fixed percentage of available federal funding each year for the four outlying U.S. territories and the three Freely Associated States in the Pacific. However, the U.S. Department of Education frequently allocates far less than the 1 percent reserved for Guam and the other “Outlying Area” jurisdictions.

To fix this, Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would require the U.S. Department of Education to reserve the full 1 percent of national IDEA funding appropriated by Congress each year for the Outlying Areas. If enacted into law, the Congresswoman’s bill would more than double federal IDEA funding to public schools on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Freely Associated States.

The “IDEA Parity for Outlying Areas Act” (H.R.6770) would also make Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands newly eligible to receive federal IDEA funding for preschoolers (young children ages 3 to 5) with disabilities. Under current law, these U.S. territories are not eligible to receive any such federal IDEA funding. If enacted into law, Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would provide approximately $2.3 million in new federal IDEA funding for some 490 preschoolers with disabilities on Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Congresswoman’s bill would also remove arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions in current law to allow the U.S. Department of Education to award federal IDEA funding to the outlying U.S. territories as a consolidated grant, as the Department does under other federal education programs.

Congresswoman Bordallo introduced the “IDEA Parity for Outlying Areas Act” based in part on the work of one of her Congressional interns from this past summer, Ms. Nadia Pablo, whose family is originally from Agat.

“As the daughter of a schoolteacher and someone involved in special education on Guam over many years, the education of our island’s youngsters with disabilities is close to my heart. My bill would support all our students and preschoolers with disabilities on Guam, the other outlying U.S. territories, and the Freely Associated States,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam).

“While my service to Guam in the U.S. Congress is coming to an end, I hope that my colleagues from the other territories will reintroduce my IDEA Parity for Outlying Areas Act next year. Students with disabilities in the territories deserve nothing less than the full support of their federal government, and that is exactly what my bill would provide,” continued Congresswoman Bordallo (D-Guam).

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