Legislature(2001 - 2002)
2001-01-17 House JournalFull 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 Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Zero, Dept. of Education & Early Development The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 15, 2001, appears below: "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 fashion. 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. Sincerely, /s/ Tony Knowles Governor"