Advocates of disabled students closely watching new ed chief

Betsy DeVos
FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2017 file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at the Education Department in Washington. The country’s new education chief got off to a rocky start with a dogged segment of the school universe, families of disabled children, when she admitted to being confused by a question at her confirmation hearing about a key federal law that has governed special education since 1975. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

During her confirmation hearing Betsy DeVos got off to a rocky start with families of disabled children when she acknowledged confusion about a federal law that governs special education.

Now that she is Education secretary, advocacy groups say they will watch closely to see how much the billionaire school-choice champion has learned and how her philosophy will affect the 6.5 million public school students who need special support in class.

DeVos now leads the department charged with enforcing the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which entitles children with disabilities to a “free appropriate public education.”

Her support for school vouchers has some worried that disabled students will lose their IDEA rights by going to schools not subject to the federal rules.