This past summer, interim legislative committee, the Extraordinary Cost Fund for Special Education Study Committee, drafted several pieces of legislation, a couple of which I discussed in an earlier post here.
This past week the committee’s legislation was formally filed, and as mentioned earlier, portions of it are still ignoring important participants in any discussion about the education of our children – parents.
SENATE BILL 3
Introduced by: Senators Bolin, Maher, Nesiba, and Youngberg and Representatives Schoenfish, Bartels, Duvall, and Smith (Jamie) at the request of the Extraordinary Cost Fund for Special Education Study Committee
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to create the Special Education Task Force.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That chapter 2-6 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
There is hereby created the Special Education Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to examine the rising numbers of students in South Dakota schools who are being identified as in need of special education or special education and related services, to examine the increasing costs of the services these students require, and to develop recommendations to address the situation.
Section 2. That chapter 2-6 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
The task force created in section 1 of this Act shall consist of the following twelve members:
(1) The Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council shall appoint the following:
(a) Three legislators including, if possible, the chair or vice-chair of the Senate standing committee on education and the chair or vice-chair of the House standing committee on education and one member of the minority party who serves on either the Senate or House standing committee on education; and
(b) A person who is an advocate for persons with disabilities;
(2) The secretary of education shall appoint the following:
(a) Three school district superintendents; one representing a school district located east of the Missouri River, one representing a school district located west of the Missouri River, and one representing a school district with a fall enrollment of four hundred or fewer;
(b) One current member of a local school board;
(c) One special education teacher with at least five years experience in teaching special education who is currently employed in a school district other than a school district represented by a superintendent or school board member appointed to serve on the task force pursuant to this section; and
(d) One person representing the Department of Education; and
(3) The Governor shall appoint two persons.
Section 3. That chapter 2-6 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
The task force shall be under the supervision of the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council and shall report to the board on the task force’s activities from time to time. The task force shall be funded and staffed as an interim legislative committee.
Section 4. That chapter 2-6 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
The task force shall conclude its work and report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature and to the Governor no later than December 31, 2020.
Sorry, but absent some changes to this task force, I’m going to continue to grouse about parents being ignored.
I see a lot of bureaucrats being appointed to this panel to “find solutions” and “develop recommendations” but literally only one member who actually delivers the services, and “an advocate for persons with disabilities,” which isn’t school age specific, and that’s about it.
The federal laws which are driving much of the expense are there to preserve the rights of students and their families. Many disputes arise over schools deviating from students’ IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans) and the federal laws which surround them gives parents the right to dispute any issues with the school district through a neutral third party.
Literally, when it comes to special education, parents are involved in how their child’s education program is designed and delivered at every step of the way, and if these plans are considered to be inadequate or not being delivered, parents are the ones who bring the matter to court.
No study group is going to change that, and they’re certainly not going to change federal law. But, in the interest of bringing the parties to the table for a discussion, it might not be the worst thing in the world to have parents who are intimately involved in their children’s education at the table when you discuss how to solve problems caused by how much it costs.