OSERS Assistant Secretary Talks Special Education

Johnny Collett, the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett and the National Center for Learning Disabilities Vice President and Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Lindsay Jones talked about the March 2017 Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, teacher professional development related to special education, the U.S. Department of Educations’ role, regulatory reform efforts, and more during an April 18 interview.

“OSERS really is unique… one reason is we really get the opportunity to impact across the life of an individual with a disability, so really birth through adulthood including post-secondary opportunities and certainly our goal of competitive integrated employment for individuals,” Collett said. “That opportunity to impact across the life of an individual is just something that’s incredibly unique and really something I am struck by every day.”

Hear more from Assistant Secretary Collett in his recorded video interview, which was part of Understood’s “Chat with an Expert” series.


  1. Mr. Collett,

    The State of Georgia continues to use “screenings” as a way to delay evaluations and ignore medically diagnosed hearing and vision impairments and other disabilities. For decades the Georgia Board of Education and Local Education Agency Boards of Education have been instructed by school attorneys not to mention the word Dyslexia and related disabilities and children have not learned to read.

    Georgia legislators are currently considering HB40 and are once again ignoring the citizenry call for evaluations because special interest groups and the schools continue to lobby for the use of “certain screenings”. If we continue to allow schools to use “screenings” that miss the neurological condition of Dyslexia many children will not learn to read and will not be able to be employed and compete in the 21st Century global economy.

    Children with Dyslexia are being erroneously classified as having emotional behavior disorders and/or low intellectual functioning and are being suspended, expelled or sent to juvenile court because of behavioral manifestations of untreated Dyslexia. Parents are also being incarcerated because when the child doesn’t learn to read and doesn’t want to go to school it results in truancy charges when in fact it is educational neglect by our school systems. In some cases, the children are being subjected to Physical Restraints because the child is not learning to read and is having behavioral manifestations.

    It is time we challenge the status quo mindset of serving the system and instead allow parents, their families and community stakeholders to change policies and procedures to serve the children, their families and our communities instead of the system.

    No one is enforcing the intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act because school continue to use waivers and flexibility as a way of maintaining the status quo and prevent real change for the sake of our children and their families.

    Local control of education has turned into abuse of power and our tax dollars to serve the system instead of the needs of our children. Stakeholder input has been highjacked by the special interest groups and school system attorneys who are controlling education instead of using our tax dollars to meet the needs of all children and their families.

    Our hard earned tax dollars are being used for the children of affluent families and those who are politically connected leaving our most vulnerable and the socially economically disadvantaged without an appropriate education.

    As a former Conservative now an Independent I ask that The U.S. Department of Education please stop the fraud, waste and abuse of our hard earned tax dollars by school system leaders who only want to serve certain children and leave the rest behind. In the long run it is fiscally irresponsible since we all pay for every child who does not receive an appropriate education.

    Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to comment.

  2. Mr. Collett, many districts continue to ignore the outcome from Endrew F., and also with regard to Procedural Safeguards, and other great policies such as using research-based curriculum so children can learn to read. Our schools are not teaching children with Dyslexia to read. The code is silent on Dyslexia, and after Bush’s policies were left behind now we are back where we were, not setting many children up for success, who have a reading disability. Thank you for allowing comments.

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