IDEA Website Back Online Following Outage
After being down at least a week, a key government special education website has been restored, officials say, but more changes are on the way.
Officials at the Department of Education said the site had intermittent outages dating back to January 27 and indicated that technical issues were to blame.
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However, the outage and its timing raised suspicions on the heels of a contentious confirmation battle in which DeVos fumbled on key questions about IDEA leading many special education advocates to oppose her nomination. The glitch also prompted a letter from Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., calling for a “detailed explanation” of the failure.
As of late Thursday, the Education Department said the site is now live again, largely in its original form.
“After a technical outage of this page, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has restored the functionality and resources that were available prior to February 8, 2017. Please be aware that some of the materials herein are outdated, and that you may find the most current regulations, statute and additional IDEA-related resources on the OSERS/OSEP IDEA webpage,” reads a note that now appears on the site’s homepage.
An Education Department spokesman — who did not wish to be named — said that while staff worked to restore the site, which had not been updated since 2013, they realized that it included several broken links and outdated information, which they chose not to retain.
Now, more changes are in the works.
“This IDEA.ed.gov site and its server hosting IDEA.ed.gov were neglected for nearly four years. This behavior is unacceptable,” DeVos said in a statement. “The restored IDEA.ed.gov site has been moved to a new server, and I’ve instructed department staff to begin working with stakeholders to build a new and improved site. This exercise is an example of complacency I won’t accept, and I remain committed to improving the department and its services.”
Meanwhile, on Friday the Education Department sent a response to Murray and Cantwell.
“I can assure you that the unavailability of the website was due entirely to a technical server malfunction at the external hosting service provider,” wrote Ruth E. Ryder, the acting director of the agency’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
Murray told Disability Scoop that she plans to keep tabs on the situation going forward.
“I am glad that the website appears to be back online, but I am going to continue monitoring this issue and working to make sure that the Department of Education is doing everything possible to protect every student and make sure they have every opportunity to learn,” Murray said.