President Obama Signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

     Today President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). The HCPA expands federal hate crime protection beyond race, religion and national origen to now include the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. This will allow the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

     While 45 states have some hate crime legislation: only 30 states and the District of Columbia (the District) include sexual orientation in their law, only 26 and the District include gender, only 12 and the District include gender identity, and only 30 and the District include disability.

     The HCPA also provides federal support through training and direct assistance to local law enforcement officials to help ensure bias-motivated crimes are investigated and prosecuted. In some cases the HCPA allows federal intervention if local law enforcement officials fail to act. National Public Radio has done a very nice story on this legislation which can be viewed by clicking here

National Center for Learning Disabilities Provides State by State Special Education Scorecards

     The National Center for Learning Disabilities has provided scorecards for every state that includes information on state special education enrollment (including the number of students with specific learning disabilities), student performance on key indicators, federal funding provided to support special education in each state, and the state’s rating by the U.S. Department of Education on its State Performance Plan. Key indicators include the percentage of students with an IEP who: graduate  with a regular diploma, drop out of school, and score proficient on state assessments in reading and math. The scorecard also provides information on how much a state received in IDEA federal funding as well as how much more it would receive if the IDEA was fully funded. The scorecards are easy to access by going to http://www.ncld.org/on-capitol-hill/policy-related-publications/special-education-scorecards and then clicking on your state.

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