The latest furor is of the department's own making, said Curtis Decker, the executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. He said his organization has a longstanding relationship with many of the people in the Education Department whose positions touch the lives of students with disabilities.
"They didn't have enough sense to call us and say, 'We're about to do this thing, don't worry, [the guidance] is pretty old, don't freak out,'" Decker said.
And, he said, the Trump administration has stirred up concerns among advocates that protections for people with disabilities are fair game for cuts or elimination that go well beyond special education. Proposed changes to Medicaid or to housing vouchers also affect people with disabilities, he said.
Funding concerns are also a factor. The approximately $13 billion for special education in the current federal budget is one of the biggest pots of money distributed by the Education Department.
There's no proposal on the table to cut special education funding. But, Decker noted, "If they're looking for savings, we're a fat little bird sitting there waiting to be cooked. We're all incredibly on edge."