Thank you to everyone who e-mailed or called their state senator and state representative and asked them to co-sponsor important legislation regarding Independent Educational Evaluation rates, and Access to Higher Education for individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities.
An Act Creating Higher Education Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other Developmental Disabilities Lead Sponsors: Rep. Sannicandro and Sen. L’Italien House Docket No. 840 – Senate Docket No. 1487. This bill provides inclusive higher education opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism (ASD), and other developmental disabilities, implementing key recommendations of the legislative Task Force on College Inclusion. Access to college improves the rates of employment, wages, self-determination skills, and independent living for adults with severe disabilities. The legislation expands the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment grant program, supporting partnerships between high schools and public institutions of higher education in order to include students. The bill also provides consideration of higher education for older students through the special education process. In addition, the bill amends the higher education statute to address inclusion of students with ID and ASD, including provisions allowing students with severe disabilities to audit college courses, even if they are unable to pass MCAS.
An Act to Provide Equal Access to Evaluations for Children with Disabilities Lead Sponsors: Rep. Tom Sannicandro and Sen. Barbara L’Italien House Docket No. 1027- Senate Docket No. 1626. This bill establishes reasonable rates for independent educational evaluations, which are critically important to ensure appropriate special education services for children with disabilities. Rates would have to be reviewed every three years and adjusted as necessary. In addition, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals would be able to order a higher rate in extraordinary cases. Special education laws give parents the right to request an independent education evaluation paid by the school district, but the rates set by the state for independent evaluations are so far below the rates customarily charged by evaluators that many low-income and middle-income parents cannot obtain an evaluation necessary to effectively participate in the development of appropriate special education services for their child.