A bill restricting the rulemaking authority of the State Board of Education could result in lower standards for students needing special education services, according to advocates, reported the Concord Monitor.
House Bill 620 was amended by a Committee of Conference to prohibit the State Board of Education from writing rules that exceed federal standards and would result in “unreimbursed expenditures or administrative burdens” on school districts. The bill was amended by the House earlier in the session to soften the language, but Senator John Reagan (District 19) reinserted the language during a Committee of Conference last Thursday, June 15.
“The committee of conference purpose was to indemnify the towns and school districts from having to pay for something that was mandated (by the state). It gives them an out from a requirement that was more stringent than the federal requirement,” Senator Reagan said.
Advocates for students receiving special education services reacted:
“If it passes then it means that the next time our rules need to be reauthorized, it will mean that we will be forced to lower our standards to the absolute lowest minimums allowed by federal law,” said Bonnie Dunham, who works at the Parent Information Center in Concord, a resource center for children with disabilities. “It means to me, ‘if it’s not free and it’s not easy – we shouldn’t do it.’ ”
Examples of rules that affect special education students include the requirement that examiners who determine whether a child has a disability be certified or licensed, and that districts must respond within 21 days when parents ask for a meeting about a child’s individualized education plan – or IEP – which governs what special education services a student receives.