Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/29/1993 08:35 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL NO. 235                                                           
       "An Act relating  to educational programs  and services                 
       for  children with  disabilities and  other exceptional                 
       children and to persons with  a handicap; and providing                 
       for an effective date."                                                 
  Co-Chair Larson  noted that  members had  received a  letter                 
  from Marc Grober, Attorney  addressing concerns regarding HB
  235 (Attachment 2).                                                          
  EDUCATION presented the  members with a written  response to                 
  Mr. Grober's concerns  (Attachment 3).   She explained  that                 
  the State is  required to submit  an annual plan  describing                 
  how Alaska will  serve exceptional children.   The State has                 
  received conditional  approval  of their  FY 92  - 94  plan.                 
  Statutory and  regulatory changes  are needed  to bring  the                 
  state into compliance with federal law.  The State will lose                 
  $8.3 million federal dollars if compliance is not met.                       
  Ms.  Howe  referred  to  section  8.   She  noted  that  the                 
  Department must allow  for a parent hearing upon  denial for                 
  placement of a child in special education services.                          
  (Tape Change, HFC 93-78, Side 2)                                             
  Ms.  Howe reviewed HB  235.  She  noted that in  section 21,                 
  rehabilitation  services  is  added  to  the  definition  of                 
  related services.   Section 23  adds two  new categories  of                 
  autism  and  traumatic  brain  injury.   The  definition  of                 
  education records  has been  expanded.   Other changes  have                 
  clarify  language   to  assure  clearer  authority   of  the                 
  Department of Education.                                                     
  Co-Chair Larson provided  members with  Amendment 1:   "Each                 
  school district  shall develop  an individualized  education                 
  program for every exceptional child" (Attachment 4).                         
  Ms. Howe clarified, in response to a question  from Co-Chair                 
  MacLean,  that there is  no federal requirement  for a three                 
  year reevaluation of students.  The Department has opted for                 
  a three year review to reestablish  eligibility.  If a child                 
  upon  reevaluation is found  to no longer  meet the criteria                 
  they will be allowed to finish their current program.                        
  Representative  Martin  noted   the  costs  associated  with                 
  keeping exceptional children at a high  level.  He asked how                 
  the cost of evaluation compares to the cost of the programs.                 
  Ms.  Howe could  not answer.    She noted  that there  is an                 
  annual evaluation requirement.                                               
  Representative Grussendorf questioned the use of "shall" vs.                 
  "may"  in  Amendment  1.    Ms.  Howe  replied  that  school                 
  districts could create a criteria so high as to not have any                 
  "gifted" students.                                                           
  Co-Chair  Larson  reiterated   Representative  Grussendorf's                 
  question  regarding the use  of "shall".   Ms. Howe stressed                 
  that regulation  already requires that  each school district                 
  have a program for exceptional children.                                     
  Ms.  Howe   explained,  in   response  to   a  question   by                 
  Representative  Parnell, that  the  school districts  submit                 
  plans for  their programs  to the  Department of  Education.                 
  The general standard is for IQ's of 130 and above.                           
  Representative  Grussendorf expressed  the  opinion that  IQ                 
  tests are culturally biased.                                                 
  WILLY ANDERSON, NEA-ALASKA expressed support for HB 235.  He                 
  stressed that  the State will  lose $8.3 million  dollars in                 
  federal funds if HB 235 is not adopted.                                      
  Representative Martin complained that "exceptional" children                 
  programs can be misused by school districts.                                 
  Co-Chair Larson noted that the only opposition to HB 235 was                 
  based on the  fear that gifted  and talented programs  which                 
  are provided  for in  regulation may  be  discontinued.   He                 
  explained that Amendment 1 would guarantee that programs are                 
  continued.   Co-Chair Larson  MOVED to  ADOPT, Amendment  1.                 
  Representative  Martin   questioned  the   use  of   "every"                 
  exceptional child.  He felt that  there would be an increase                 
  cost to the State.                                                           
  Ms. Howe clarified that Amendment 1 would not change current                 
  practice.  She  noted that "gifted  children" is defined  by                 
  each school  district.   Representative  Martin  noted  that                 
  "gifted" and "talented" are defined in HB 235.                               
  Representative Martin OBJECTED to Amendment 1.  A  roll call                 
  vote was taken on the motion.                                                
  IN FAVOR: Navarre, Parnell, Foster, Larson, MacLean                          
  OPPOSED:  Martin, Grussendorf, Hanley                                        
  Representatives Therriault,  Brown and  Hoffman were  absent                 
  from the vote.                                                               
  The MOTION PASSED (5-3).                                                     
  Representative  Hanley noted that  the definition of "gifted                 
  and talented"  children does  not include  all the  previous                 
  categories.    Ms. Howe  explained  that the  Department was                 
  advised  by  the  Department  of  Law  to  not  include each                 
  specific category in statute.  The Department of Law advised                 
  that it  would be  better to  address specific  requirements                 
  through regulations.                                                         
  Representative  Grussendorf  expressed concern  that parents                 
  "brow beat" school  districts to allow their children in the                 
  gifted and talented programs.  Representative Martin agreed.                 
  Co-Chair  MacLean  MOVED to  report  CSHB 235  (FIN)  out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
  CSHB   235   was  reported   out   of  Committee   with  "no                 
  recommendation"  and  with   a  zero  fiscal  note   by  the                 
  Department of Education, dated 3/24/93.                                      

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