UPDATE 2/7/18: The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities reported An Act to Provide Equal Access to Evaluations for Children with Disabilities favorably out of committee on Monday, February 5th. We are grateful to sponsors Senator Barbara L’Italien and Representative Jim O’Day for their commitment to this bill as well as committee Chairs Representative Kay Khan and Senator Joan Lovely for their dedication and hard work to ensure this bill received a favorable report. The bill will now continue on through the legislative process. The current legislative session ends on July 31, 2018.
MAC supports bill to expand access to evaluations for children with disabilities
MAC Senior Project Director Julia Landau testified on a panel organized by MAC in support of S. 58, “An act to provide equal access to evaluations for children with disabilities.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Barbara L’Italien, aims to reform the rates used to reimburse independent educational evaluations (IEEs) for students with disabilities. The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing on this bill on December 7.
Julia testified that this bill, which calls for rates to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary every three years, “not only helps to level the playing field for low-income and middle-income families, but also will likely reduce litigation and increase the opportunity for all concerned to understand and appropriately educate students with disabilities.”
Independent evaluations are conducted by a range of professionals including psychologists, special educators, and speech therapists, and are a legally required option for students receiving special education services. The evaluations are critically important to help determine the special education services necessary to meet a child’s needs.
IEEs are used in a small number of cases when parents disagree with a school district’s testing. However, the rates set by the state for independent evaluations are far below the rates customarily charged by evaluators. As a result, many low-income and middle-income parents cannot obtain the evaluation necessary to effectively participate on their child’s IEP Team.
Julia testified alongside Ann Guay, MAC board member and Chair of MAC’s Friends of the Autism Center. MAC urged the Committee to report the bill out favorably, to help ensure that all families, regardless of income level, can exercise their due process rights.