Legislature(1999 - 2000)

2000-01-21 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2000-01-21                     House Journal                      Page 1963
HB 301                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 301 by the House Rules Committee by request of                  
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
"An Act relating to the education of exceptional children; and                
providing for an effective date."                                              
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social         
Services and Finance Committees.                                               

2000-01-21                     House Journal                      Page 1964
HB 301                                                                       
The following fiscal note applies:                                             
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Education & Early Development, 1/21/00              
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 19, 2000, appears              
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                          
Alaska's responsibility of providing quality education for our children        
extends to all children, including those with special needs.  The bill I       
transmit today clarifies the state's role in the education of our              
exceptional children.                                                          
In 1997 Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities                
Education Act (IDEA) which took effect this past July.  State law and          
regulations contain inconsistencies that restrict our compliance with the      
federal program while creating confusion between the state Department          
of Education and Early Development (department) and individual                 
school districts.  This bill repeals those inconsistent state laws, brings     
the state into compliance with the intent of Congress, and offers clear        
guidance and assistance to school districts in delivering services to          
special education students.                                                    
Alaska law presently requires that a school district provide special           
education services to children with disabilities who reside in the             
district.  But state law also exempts students from compulsory                 
attendance at the public school in a student's home district if the            
student is enrolled in an alternative program.  The result is that the         
district of residence, which has the legal responsibility to provide           
special education services, may not be able to provide the services            
because the child has not enrolled at a school in the district, and the        
district may know nothing about the child.  The bill corrects this             
problem by properly identifying the district of enrollment as the entity       
responsible for providing special education programs to children with          

2000-01-21                     House Journal                      Page 1965
HB 301                                                                       
The department recognizes that under some circumstances, like                  
enrollment in a statewide correspondence program provided by a                 
district located far from the student's home, the program may have to          
be creative in providing the required services to a special education          
student.  It may, for example, have to contract with the student's home        
district for assistance in providing those services, or may have to make       
other arrangements.                                                            
Present state law also provides that services for "exceptional children"       
include programs for gifted and talented children along with programs          
for children with disabilities.  Federal money is available for children       
with disabilities but cannot be used for gifted and talented programs.         
To be consistent with federal policy, this bill separates special              
education requirements from offerings for gifted and talented children,        
while retaining the requirement that school districts provide programs         
for gifted and talented children.  The department will adopt regulations       
to assist school districts in meeting this requirement.                        
The bill also clarifies the method by which hearing officers are               
appointed to address appeals of special education issues.  It requires         
the department to maintain a list of qualified hearing officers, establish     
criteria by which persons may be qualified, and provide appropriate            
training to them.                                                              
As part of Alaska's commitment to quality education of our young               
people, I urge your prompt and favorable action on this bill.                  
							Tony Knowles