Legislature(1999 - 2000)

2000-01-20 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2000-01-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 2012
SB 205                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 205 BY THE SENATE 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 and              
Social Services and Finance Committees.                                        
Zero fiscal note published today from Department of Education and              
Early Development.                                                             
Governors transmittal letter dated January 19:                                 

2000-01-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 2013
SB 205                                                                       
Dear President Pearce:                                                         
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 disabilities.                                                    
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.                                           

2000-01-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 2014
SB 205                                                                       
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              
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