Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/11/2001 08:07 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 71-EDUC. OF DISABLED OR GIFTED CHILDREN                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 71, "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."                                                                    
Number 0127                                                                                                                     
BRUCE JOHNSON,  Deputy Commissioner  of Education, Office  of the                                                               
Commissioner,  Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development                                                               
(EED), came  forward and stated  that [the EED] held  a statewide                                                               
teleconference on March 14 with  several GT (gifted and talented)                                                               
constituents,   including  parents,   advocates,  teachers,   and                                                               
directors.  After some significant  discussion on what was before                                                               
the  legislature, [the  EED] has  offered three  amendments.   He                                                               
explained  that  the  first  [amendment] has  to  do  with  least                                                               
restrictive  environment.   People  had  been  concerned that  GT                                                               
students could  not be  grouped together  without age-appropriate                                                               
peers.    [The  EED's]  intent  previously  was  that  the  least                                                               
restrictive  environment language  in the  bill did  not preclude                                                               
that; however, since  there has been concern,  [the EED] believes                                                               
it makes sense to delete that section.                                                                                          
MR. JOHNSON explained that the  second [amendment] has to do with                                                               
reimbursement   for  the   transportation  of   gifted  children.                                                               
[Alaska] has been providing transportation  for GT students for a                                                               
long period  of time.  He  stated that the only  reason [the EED]                                                               
has left  [this language] out is  to bring this issue  before the                                                               
public  for discussion.   There  is a  lot of  concern about  the                                                               
increased cost for student  transportation; however, he explained                                                               
that this [provision]  is very discretionary in terms  of how the                                                               
state deals with it.  Clearly,  he said, GT parents and advocates                                                               
of  GT feel  that this  is  a very  important piece  for them  to                                                               
continue in order to serve GT students.                                                                                         
MR.  JOHNSON, said,  the  last  [amendment] has  to  do with  due                                                               
process  hearings.   [The  EED] does  not  have federal  dollars;                                                               
therefore,  there  is not  an  incremental  approach to  settling                                                               
disputes involving  GT.   He added that  in discussions  on March                                                               
14,  individuals felt  that  they would  like  to have  mediation                                                               
built  in,  since  all  complaint remedy  is  at  the  district's                                                               
expense anyway.   [The EED] has added  mandatory mediation, which                                                               
is  a more  positive and  proactive  approach.   Therefore, if  a                                                               
parent of a  GT student requests a due process  hearing, it would                                                               
automatically "kick in"  to a mandatory mediation.   If it wasn't                                                               
resolved there, he  stated, the parents could  continue to pursue                                                               
it through the due process.                                                                                                     
MR.  JOHNSON  added  that  one   other  amendment  [the  EED]  is                                                               
suggesting  is  on  page  11,  line 24,  which  talks  about  the                                                               
identification   of   various   categories   of   children   with                                                               
disabilities.  He  stated that there was  "speech impairment" and                                                               
now [the  EED] has agreed  to bring  that to "speech  or language                                                               
Number 0507                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  made a motion  to adopt Amendment  1, which                                                               
read [original punctuation and capitalization included]:                                                                        
     Page 15, 4-9                                                                                                               
     Delete:       [SEC.   14.30.355.    LEAST   RESTRICTIVE                                                                  
     ENVIRONMENT.   EACH SCHOOL  DISTRICT SHALL  ENSURE THAT                                                                    
     TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT  APPROPRIATE, GIFTED CHILDREN ARE                                                                    
     EDUCATED  WITH CHILDREN  WHO ARE  NOT  GIFTED AND  THAT                                                                    
     SPECIAL CLASSES,  SEPARATE SCHOOLING, OR  OTHER REMOVAL                                                                    
     OF  GIFTED   CHILDREN  FROM  THE   REGULAR  EDUCATIONAL                                                                    
     ENVIRONMENT  OCCURS  ONLY  WHEN  EDUCATION  IN  REGULAR                                                                    
     CLASSES  WITH   THE  USE  OF  SUPPLEMENTARY   AIDS  AND                                                                    
     SERVICES CANNOT BE ACHIEVED SATISFACTORILY.]                                                                               
     Insert:      Sec.   14.30.355.      Reimbursement   for                                                              
     transportation    of    gifted   children.        State                                                                
     reimbursement  for  transportation of  gifted  children                                                                
     shall be  provided as for  transportation of  all other                                                                
     pupils  except that  eligibility  for reimbursement  is                                                                
     not limited  to transportation to and  from the child's                                                                
     residence  to the  school but  shal [sic]  also include                                                                
     transportation between  schools and other  locations of                                                                
     instruction as  required by the  child's individualized                                                                
     gifted education program.                                                                                              
     This   amendment   removes   all   "least   restrictive                                                                    
     environment"    language    as     it    pertains    to                                                                    
     gifted/talented students,  and adds in a  provision for                                                                    
     the transportation  of gifted/talented students.   This                                                                    
     transportation is  currently reimbursed, so to  not add                                                                    
     it  back  in  means  taking  away  a  service  that  is                                                                    
     currently provided for those  students.  This amendment                                                                    
     does not affect the fiscal note.                                                                                           
CHAIR BUNDE objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  stated  that   in  public  testimony  [the                                                               
committee]  heard from  parents who  feel that  their gifted  and                                                               
talented children  really benefit  from the  ability to  have the                                                               
"pullouts."  He remarked that  Allison Brumner (ph), a [student],                                                               
he wanted  to testify on this  point that she wished  to continue                                                               
to have  this environment.   This amendment, he  explained, would                                                               
delete that  language and then  insert in its place  the language                                                               
on transportation.                                                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON  stated that he sees  some irony in this.   There was                                                               
the  thrust for  mainstreaming  special-education  kids, but  now                                                               
"we"  want  to  make  sure  that  gifted  kids  aren't  like  the                                                               
mainstream.  He asked Mr. Johnson if he sees the same irony.                                                                    
Number 0646                                                                                                                     
MR. JOHNSON  responded that these are  two different populations.                                                               
Role modeling that can occur in  a regular classroom makes a huge                                                               
difference  in  the lives  of  children  with disabilities.    He                                                               
stated  that there  are people  who feel  that the  right way  to                                                               
serve GT  kids is  in a pullout  environment with  like students.                                                               
Whether  that is  full-day  or partial-day  varies  all over  the                                                               
state.   For example,  in Anchorage there  is a  full-day program                                                               
for the brightest  students, as measured by their  IQs, and there                                                               
are several other  layers of programs.  Some  children are served                                                               
at their  neighborhood schools  in a pullout  program.   He added                                                               
that it is not widespread across  the state for kids to be served                                                               
without their  age-appropriate peers  since most  communities are                                                               
not large enough to do this.                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE stated that if students were pulled out on a full-                                                                  
time basis,  it would  deprive the average  student of  that same                                                               
leadership  role  modeling  that  is  so  valuable  for  special-                                                               
education  kids.   He pointed  out that  when all  of the  gifted                                                               
students are together there is a "pecking order."                                                                               
     REPRESENTATIVE PORTER remarked that  he could speak for                                                                    
     a  half  an  hour  about   why  he  doesn't  like  this                                                                    
     amendment.   However, he said  once these  folks figure                                                                    
     out  how  to  fund  these programs  of  "extra  special                                                                    
     treatment" he will support it.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE noted  that he  has five  children on  both                                                               
ends  of the  spectrum: special  education  and GT.   There  were                                                               
pullouts [for  the special-education  kids] to address  the areas                                                               
in which they needed help.  These  were not all day long.  On the                                                               
gifted and talented spectrum, he  said, it was basically the same                                                               
thing.  He shared that the  experience the children in gifted and                                                               
talented  had was  structured in  such a  way that  they had  the                                                               
benefit of the  regular classroom for most of the  day at school,                                                               
as well  as time with  other individuals  who were pulled  out of                                                               
class.   Overall,  he  said,  he thinks  it  served  a very  good                                                               
CHAIR BUNDE suggested  that his comments are just  a caution that                                                               
there should be minimum pullout.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  added that there  is another bill  that may                                                               
be used as a vehicle  for gifted students within charter schools.                                                               
He suggested that  if that moves forward that might  take care of                                                               
some of these issues.                                                                                                           
Number 0980                                                                                                                     
A  roll call  vote was  taken.   Representatives Stevens,  Joule,                                                               
Guess, and Bunde voted in  favor of Amendment 1.  Representatives                                                               
Porter and  Green voted against  it.  [Representative  Wilson was                                                               
absent.]  Therefore, Amendment 1 was adopted by a vote of 4-2.                                                                  
Number 0991                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE made a motion to adopt Amendment 2, which                                                                  
read [original punctuation and capitalization included]:                                                                        
     Page 15, line 31, through page 16, line 6:                                                                                 
     Delete current text and replace with the following:                                                                        
            (b)  If a  due process  hearing is  requested by                                                                
     either a  parent or the  school district,  the district                                                                
     shall   appoint  a   trained,  impartial   mediator  to                                                                
     administer  a  mediation  process   in  an  attempt  to                                                                
     resolve  the  disputes  between  the  parents  and  the                                                                
     district.  The  mediator may not be an  employee of the                                                                
     district and  must not have a  personal or professional                                                                
     conflict of  interest in  the matter  in dispute.   The                                                                
     district  shall   bear  the  costs  of   the  mediation                                                                
            (c) If the mediation  process required in (b) of                                                                
     this section does not resolve  all of the issues raised                                                                
     in  the  request for  a  due  process hearing  provided                                                                
     under  (a)  of  this subsection,  the  school  district                                                                
     shall contact the department  to request appointment of                                                                
     an  available hearing  officer.   The department  shall                                                                
     select  a hearing  officer through  a random  selection                                                                
     process,  from a  list  maintained  by the  department.                                                                
     Within five  working days after receipt  of the request                                                                
     for appointment  of a  hearing officer,  the department                                                                
     shall provide to  the district and the  parent a notice                                                                
     of appointment, including the name,  and a statement of                                                                
     qualifications,  of   the  hearing  officer   that  the                                                                
     department  determines  is  available  to  conduct  the                                                                
     Page 16, line 7:         Change "(c)" to "(d)"                                                                             
     Page 16, line 16:        Change "(d)" to "(e)"                                                                             
     Page 16, line 26:        Change "(e)" to "(f)"                                                                             
     This  amendment  adds  in a  requirement  of  mediation                                                                    
     prior  to  a  dispute   going  to  a  hearing  officer.                                                                    
     Medication is far  less expensive, and is  often a more                                                                    
     positive route  for resolution of conflicts.   The cost                                                                    
     of  settling  disputes  is   handled  by  the  district                                                                    
     currently,  so   this  does  not  impose   an  unfunded                                                                    
     mandate.   In fact, changing  the bill lowers  the cost                                                                    
     of handling disputes  for gifted/talented children, for                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  explained that this addresses  the issue of                                                               
due process.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE  stated that  he thinks the  idea of  mediation being                                                               
required  is something  that could  strengthen the  process.   He                                                               
removed his objection.  He  announced that there being no further                                                               
objection, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                             
Number 1040                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  made a motion  to adopt Amendment  3, which                                                               
read [original punctuation and capitalization included]:                                                                        
     Page 11, line 24                                                                                                           
     Change to:                                                                                                                 
            (I)     speech or language impairment;                                                                          
     This is  an amendment  requested by the  Department and                                                                    
     pertains   to  identification   of  Special   Education                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   objected.    He  asked   how  impaired  a                                                               
"language impairment"  is.  For  example, if someone  hasn't been                                                               
in the country very long and  understands what's going on but may                                                               
not  be  able  to  communicate freely,  would  that  be  language                                                               
CHAIR BUNDE stated that this is  not a second language but how [a                                                               
student] is  doing in the  English language.   He said  there are                                                               
age-appropriate  parameters.   He  added  that  the dichotomy  of                                                               
speech is, "How  do you pronounce the words?"   Language is, "How                                                               
do you use the words to achieve your needs?"                                                                                    
GREG   MALONEY,  Director,   Special  Education,   Department  of                                                               
Education and Early  Development, came forth and  stated that the                                                               
assessment  process is  designed to  exclude language  [problems]                                                               
related  to bilingual  issues or  other languages  used that  may                                                               
mask a  real language deficit.   He explained that it  is more of                                                               
an  internal process  of how  a  person processes  language.   He                                                               
added  that many  people have  interpreted  speech impairment  to                                                               
primarily  mean  articulation;  however, language  is  a  broader                                                               
category of how  somebody expresses language as  well as receives                                                               
language.    He  clarified  that   this  is  in  line  with  IDEA                                                               
(Individuals  with  Disabilities   Education  Act)  97s,  federal                                                               
language regarding  speech or language  impairments, but  it does                                                               
specifically talk to excluding other languages.                                                                                 
Number 1184                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated that it  is not a [language] issue if                                                               
a person  has trouble pronouncing,  but if  a person can't  put a                                                               
sentence  together to  get his  or her  idea across  or interpret                                                               
what is  said, it  is.   He asked, if  he were  a second-language                                                               
person, whether the interpreting would be a problem.                                                                            
MR.  MALONEY  responded  that  it  would  be  more  the  person's                                                               
ability.    Primarily the  assessment  in  English is  where  the                                                               
special education would  come in.  He explained that  if a person                                                               
is having  trouble enunciating and the  assessment indicates that                                                               
it  is  not  an  accent  problem,  then  that  would  not  be  an                                                               
impediment.  If  somebody has an articulation  problem whereby he                                                               
or she may slur some of  the letters or have a structural problem                                                               
with pronouncing certain letters,  that can be remediated through                                                               
therapy; that could be  a disability.  He added that  it is not a                                                               
science  but that  the  assessment is  designed  to exclude  non-                                                               
disability types of situations.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   asked  if   this  would   include  speech                                                               
MR.  MALONEY  answered  yes.    He    clarified  that  [with  the                                                               
amendment]  the  services would  be  the  same;  it's more  of  a                                                               
technical  change to  make sure  everybody knows  that it  covers                                                               
both speech and language.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  BUNDE  stated  that  the  (indisc.)  authority  of  speech                                                               
therapy includes a list; however,  there isn't a bright line that                                                               
says,  "This  is  just  a  speech problem;  this  is  a  language                                                               
problem."   There are people  who have language problems  who can                                                               
also have articulation problems.   However, he said, the language                                                               
problem is much  more global and far more  debilitating than, for                                                               
example, someone having a lisp.                                                                                                 
MR. MALONEY  added that frequently language  [impairment] is also                                                               
tied in to  someone having a learning disability.   Therefore, it                                                               
is a more global kind of processing deficit.                                                                                    
Number 1308                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN removed his objection.                                                                                     
CHAIR BUNDE remarked  that he is sure that there  are many people                                                               
who would  strongly object  to being placed  under an  IEP simply                                                               
because English  was their  second language.   He  announced that                                                               
there being no further objection, Amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                      
MR. JOHNSON asked  if, when [the committee]  adopted Amendment 1,                                                               
which  deleted the  least restrictive  environment language,  the                                                               
reimbursement for transportation [language] was inserted.                                                                       
CHAIR BUNDE  answered yes.   He asked  what the fiscal  impact of                                                               
Amendment 1 would be.                                                                                                           
MR. JOHNSON  responded that  [the EED]  is currently  doing this;                                                               
therefore, it is not included as a fiscal note.                                                                                 
Number 1367                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  PORTER stated  that he  hopes [the  House Finance                                                               
Committee]  takes a  serious look  at that  particular inclusion,                                                               
which he said he would categorize as a "black hole."                                                                            
CHAIR BUNDE  stated that  he has mixed  feelings about  the bill;                                                               
however,  there  is testimony  from  [the  EED]  that it  is  not                                                               
something that has to be done right away.                                                                                       
Number 1450                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  made a  motion to move  HB 71,  as amended,                                                               
from  committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached                                                               
fiscal notes.   There being no objection, CSHB  71(EDU) was moved                                                               
from the House Special Committee on Education.                                                                                  

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