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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

State Advisory Panel

State advisory panel (Sec. 300.167)

Comment: One commenter stated that Sec. Sec. 300.167 through 300.169 are unnecessary and do not add any requirements beyond those in section 612(a)(21) of the Act. The commenter recommended removing these requirements and stated that they can be adequately implemented through guidance provided by the Department and not through regulation.

Discussion: The requirements of the State advisory panel in Sec. Sec. 300.167 through 300.169 reflect the specific language in section 612(a)(21) of the Act. We believe it is necessary to include these statutory requirements in the regulations to provide parents, public agencies, and others with information on the requirements applicable to State advisory panels.

Changes: None.

Comment: Several commenters recommended retaining the procedures to govern State advisory panels in current Sec. 300.653 and strengthening the requirements of notice and opportunity for public comment at State advisory panel meetings by mandating publication of meeting dates, agendas, and minutes on Web sites. A few commenters stated that eliminating the notice requirements and the opportunity to participate in meetings in current Sec. 300.653(d) and (e) will result in fewer low income, hearing-impaired, and foreign-language speaking parents attending State advisory panel meetings. One commenter expressed concern that the removal of current Sec. 300.653 will result in less panel visibility, less public participation, and that State advisory panels will become "rubber-stamps" for positions taken by State officials. One commenter stated that the removal of the requirements in current Sec. 300.653 weakens the protection of children with disabilities, and, therefore, violates section 607(b) of the Act.

Discussion: The requirements in current Sec. 300.653 were removed to provide greater State flexibility in the operation of advisory panels. We do not believe the removal of current Sec. 300.653 will mean that the States will not ensure that State advisory panel meetings are announced in advance and open to the public because States generally have adequate sunshine laws that ensure public access to governmental agency meetings. We do not believe it is necessary to require that information regarding State advisory panel meetings be posted on State Web sites because sunshine laws generally contain provisions regarding meeting notices, agendas, and the availability of minutes of public meetings. However, it is important that individuals consult the laws governing their State and locality on the issue of open meetings and public access.

Section 607(b)(2) of the Act provides that the Secretary may not implement, or publish in final form, any regulation pursuant to the Act that procedurally or substantively lessens the protections provided to children with disabilities as embodied in regulations in effect on July 20, 1983. We do not believe removing from these regulations the requirements in current Sec. 300.653 procedurally or substantively lessens the protections provided to children with disabilities pursuant to section 607(b)(2) of the Act because we do not view public notice of advisory committee meetings to be a protection provided to children with disabilities.

Changes: None.