Feature

#PolicyforthePeople Bills to Watch: Special Education

With so much going on in the state legislature it can be hard to keep track of it all. OPEN is here to make policy accessible to the people by providing timely information about what’s going on and how to keep our legislators and community members accountable. In addition to the #PolicyForThePeople legislation tracker we will also provide summaries of popular issues in the legislative session that impact equity and excellence for children in public schools.

Read here about a few bills that you should watch.

OPEN values high-quality special education services for all children who need them, because we believe this is an important part of equity and justice in education. Currently 12% of the entire public school population (approx. 6,000 students) in New Orleans receives special education services and programs. This legislative session, there are a few bills we are following that will impact children and adults who receive special education services:

    • Age of services: Currently, special education services are offered to adults at the LA Special Education Center until their 32nd birthday if they are not deemed “employable” by their 22nd birthday. HB 227 would remove this age requirement and allow the “center’s licensure”, (likely local staff and administration), to only provide services until the age they believe is appropriate. OPEN is concerned this will allow staff to end services earlier than the student actually needs, even while it also offers the opportunity to personalize the length of services according to student need. We are watching this bill due to this uncertainty, and will continue to update the tracker as it moves through the legislature. 
      • Currently pending House Education committee, no date set for next meeting. Contact office of Rep. Lance Harris for more information.
    • Video cameras: There are two bills up for debate (HB283 and HB334) that would implement video camera surveillance of special education students in schools and people with developmental disabilities living in intermediate state facilities. This could be beneficial because it could increase transparency of care, but OPEN is worried about issues of consent, privacy and how the video footage would be shared and used. We are watching this bill due to this uncertainty, and will continue to update the tracker as it moves through the legislature. 
        • HB 283: Currently pending House Education committee, no date set for next meeting. Contact office of Rep. Mark Wright for more information.
      • HB 334: Currently pending House Health and Welfare committee, no date set for next meeting. Contact office of Rep. Franklin Foil for more information.
  • Advisory council: SB158 proposes that every public school governing authority (charter organizations, school boards, etc.) establish an advisory council that provides advice and feedback on special education policy and resources and engage in community outreach. Each advisory council would be required to be at least 60% parents of children with exceptionalities (besides gifted and talented students). OPEN strongly supports the participation of parents on this council and advocates for a better balance between parents, advocates and special education professionals to ensure that experience, advocacy and technical expertise are all present at the policymaking table. We are in support of this bill. 
    • Currently pending Senate Education committee, no date set for next meeting. Contact office of Sen. Jack Donahue for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *