Following Outage, Ed Department Wants Feedback On IDEA Site
After technical problems brought a key government special education website to a screeching halt, federal officials are asking the public for help as they look to reimagine the site.
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking comment about the idea.ed.gov website. The request comes just weeks after the site housing information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was restored following an outage that lasted at least a week.
“Once the IDEA website became functional again, the secretary (of education) directed the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to create a new and improved IDEA site and include stakeholder input as part of the development process,” reads the request.
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“OSERS is seeking input from users of the IDEA.ed.gov website as part of our effort to provide updated, easy-to-navigate IDEA resources to children with disabilities and their families, teachers, administrators, advocates and other stakeholders.”
Specifically, the Education Department wants to know what resources on the site are most used and what new information or functionalities people would like to see.
The website downtime raised suspicions, occurring right around the time that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed. DeVos had faced criticism from special education advocates and some senators after fumbling questions about IDEA during her confirmation hearing.
Seeking to allay concerns, DeVos issued a statement when the website was restored pledging to modernize the special education portal.
“This IDEA.ed.gov site and its server hosting IDEA.ed.gov were neglected for nearly four years. This behavior is unacceptable,” DeVos said. “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.”
The Education Department said that the existing website at idea.ed.gov will remain live while a new site is developed and will continue to operate once any new site is made available as well.