Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-01-17 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-01-17                     House Journal                      Page 0112
HB 71                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 71 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                        
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the education of children with disabilities and                            
     of gifted children; relating to the Governor's Council on                                      
     Disabilities and Special Education; making conforming                                          
     amendments; and providing for an effective date."                                              
was read the first time and referred to the Special Committee on                                    
Education and the Health, Education & Social Services and Finance                                   
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Zero, Dept. of Education & Early Development                                                    
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 15, 2001, appears                                   
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
Alaska's responsibility for providing quality educational services for                              
our children extends to all children, including those with unique                                   
educational needs.  I transmit today a bill clarifying the state's role in                          
the education of our exceptional children.                                                          
In 1997, Congress authorized amendments to the Individuals with                                     
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The subsequent federal                                          
regulations related to the IDEA took effect in May 1999.  This bill                                 
amends inconsistent components of our state statutes to bring Alaska                                
into compliance with these current federal special education mandates,                              
including emphasizing the participation of parents in making decisions                              
relating to special education eligibility and services.                                             
An important protection provided to both school districts and children                              
with disabilities is the due process hearing.  This bill clarifies the                              

2001-01-17                     House Journal                      Page 0113
procedures for requesting a due process hearing and streamlines the                                 
process for selecting a hearing officer by having the Department of                                 
Education and Early Development (department) randomly assign                                        
officers from a list maintained by the department.  These procedures                                
will help due process hearings be completed in a fair and timely                                    
Alaska law presently requires that a school district provide special                                
education services to children with disabilities who reside in the                                  
district.  State law also exempts children from attending public school                             
if children are enrolled in an alternative education program.  This has                             
resulted in confusion regarding which school district or other                                      
educational agency is responsible for providing special education                                   
services when children are enrolled in alternate programs.  This bill                               
addresses this problem by providing for allocation of the                                           
responsibilities and coordination of the provision of special education                             
services among the various educational agencies.                                                    
Present state law provides a combined program of services for gifted                                
children and for children with disabilities.  The detailed requirements                             
of the federal IDEA and the federal program financing apply only to                                 
the state's educational programs for children with disabilities; federal                            
money for the IDEA may not be used for programs for gifted children.                                
To be consistent with federal requirements, this bill separates statutes                            
regarding special education requirements for children with disabilities                             
from those regarding requirements for gifted children.  However, the                                
bill maintains procedural safeguards for both programs.                                             
As part of Alaska's commitment to quality education for all children,                               
including children with disabilities and gifted children, I urge your                               
prompt and favorable action on this bill.                                                           
                            Tony Knowles