Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/04/2000 03:05 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 301 - EDUCATION OF EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN                                                                                      
Number 0028                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the first order of business as House Bill                                                              
No. 301, "An Act relating to the education of exceptional children;                                                             
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
Number 0095                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL made a motion to adopt the proposed                                                                      
committee substitute (CS) for HB 301, version GH2003\G, Ford,                                                                   
3/27/00, as a work draft.  There being no objection, Version G was                                                              
before the committee.                                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Bruce Johnson to come forward and explain the                                                              
changes in the CS.                                                                                                              
Number 0273                                                                                                                     
BRUCE JOHNSON, Deputy Commissioner of Education, Department of                                                                  
Education & Early Development (EED), came forward to testify.  He                                                               
commented that the department is pleased to support a number of the                                                             
provisions included in CSHB 301.                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Dr. Johnson if he is saying there are some                                                                 
provisions the EED doesn't support.                                                                                             
DR. JOHNSON replied there are a couple of provisions that the EED                                                               
did not bring forth as a result of testimony.  The EED doesn't                                                                  
object to them in a strong way.  Specifically, the EED supports and                                                             
believes that there are good reasons to support the CS in the                                                                   
following areas:  The additions to page 1, line 12, Sec.                                                                        
14.30.182(4) ensure that the department continually monitors                                                                    
federal requirements for services to children with disabilities and                                                             
reports the finding to the legislature.  That makes sense to the                                                                
EED whenever there is reauthorization.  In the off-years when there                                                             
is no reauthorization, there likely is not going to be much more                                                                
than the continuation of the previous year's update.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE referred to Sec. 4, page 3, lines 9-13, and                                                                
asked if only the issues related to the responsibilities of the EED                                                             
and not the local school districts are outlined.                                                                                
DR. JOHNSON answered that is correct.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE surmised, then, that there is no real way of                                                               
finding out, through this report, what impacts federal changes                                                                  
might have on the local school districts.                                                                                       
DR. JOHNSON answered that is correct.                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN DYSON summarized Dr. Johnson's answer to Representative                                                                
Brice as that this annual report won't be specific to schools or                                                                
school districts.                                                                                                               
DR. JOHNSON clarified that it only impacts federal laws.  He read                                                               
[the report] to discuss the federal requirements for special                                                                    
education and thus there will be an impact if a new law comes into                                                              
being that impacts services or requirements at the local level, so                                                              
to that extent it would go to that level.                                                                                       
Number 0504                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked if it would be possible to include the                                                             
gifted and talented in the proposed report such as a description of                                                             
unmet needs of gifted and talented (GT) and recommendations for                                                                 
addressing the unmet needs.                                                                                                     
DR. JOHNSON answered he believes that (b) on page 3, lines 15-19                                                                
covers that so GT would currently fall under that category.                                                                     
Number 0576                                                                                                                     
DR. JOHNSON referred to page 2, line 20, Sec. 14.30.186.  This is                                                               
additional detail regarding the responsible party for special                                                                   
education services regardless of where a disabled child attends                                                                 
school.  There is increased delineation there and who is                                                                        
responsible.  The EED believes that brings clarity and makes good                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Dr. Johnson what a city school district                                                              
DR. JOHNSON replied it would be a single site, for example, Galena                                                              
and Valdez are city schools.                                                                                                    
DR. JOHNSON referred to page 3, lines 15-19, AS 14.30.193(b) which                                                              
allows for a period up to 12 months for a parent to provide written                                                             
notice of a request for a due process hearing.  The EED agrees with                                                             
that change, and that should meet the needs of most individuals                                                                 
since this does impact a very narrow range of families.  Basically,                                                             
as the EED understands it, it would be a case where a family has                                                                
done a unilateral placement because of a disagreement or a need                                                                 
that the family perceive with their child, and therefore from the                                                               
very beginning of that, the family would be carrying the financial                                                              
responsibility.  The family would be very alert to what has                                                                     
happened and would have 12 months to bring about any due process.                                                               
DR. JOHNSON referred to page 3, line 29, AS 14.30.193.  It was                                                                  
suggested that the EED provide the parents with the qualifications                                                              
of the hearing officers rather than just a list of hearing                                                                      
officers.  That seems to be a reasonable request and therefore                                                                  
strengthens the bill.                                                                                                           
DR. JOHNSON referred to page 4, line 18, AS 14.30.325.  That allows                                                             
the EED by regulation to provide for the appointment of surrogate                                                               
parents to represent children with disabilities.  That was an                                                                   
oversight on the EED's part earlier, and it strengthens the bill.                                                               
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked what a surrogate parent is.                                                                                
Number 0787                                                                                                                     
PJ FORD-SLACK, Director, Special Education, Teaching and Learning                                                               
Support, Department of Education & Early Development, came forward                                                              
to explain that the surrogate parent is a provision within IDEA                                                                 
[Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] for a school district                                                             
to appoint someone who will represent the educational needs of a                                                                
child when a parent or a relative is not available.  A member of a                                                              
state agency or a school district cannot be a surrogate parent.  A                                                              
foster parent must be able to show a long time commitment, at least                                                             
a year or more with that child, before he/she would be considered                                                               
to be a surrogate parent.  Surrogate parents must undergo training;                                                             
their sole purpose at an IEP [Individual Education Plan] meeting or                                                             
in requesting an evaluation or program change is to represent that                                                              
child.  It is the district's responsibility to have a list of                                                                   
surrogate parents available to represent children when they might                                                               
become a ward of the state or not have a parent available, such as                                                              
in a juvenile detention center.                                                                                                 
DR. FORD-SLACK agreed it is sort of like a guardian ad litem, but                                                               
the surrogate parent, under IDEA, is the representative that the                                                                
school district appoints so there also might be a guardian ad                                                                   
litem.  A surrogate parent would still need to be appointed because                                                             
he/she would still be the one under the federal law to represent                                                                
the educational needs of that child, and there is very specific                                                                 
training of surrogate parents about IDEA in order to take on that                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the surrogate parents have the same                                                               
or similar responsibilities of parents.                                                                                         
DR. FORD-SLACK replied that they do when a parent is not there or                                                               
unavailable.  The difficulty is that there are court-appointed                                                                  
people or state social workers or sometimes foster parents who                                                                  
haven't had the child for a long period of time.  The federal                                                                   
government decided that in the case of special education students,                                                              
it was important for a person to go into an IEP meeting, or to ask                                                              
for an evaluation, or now with the discipline provisions, to have                                                               
at least some sort of cursory understanding of IDEA so he/she could                                                             
represent the child.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if that was the nuance that makes a                                                                  
surrogate parent different from a guardian ad litem.                                                                            
DR. FORD-SLACK replied she believed that is.  She further answered                                                              
Chairman Dyson that surrogate parents are volunteers.                                                                           
DR. JOHNSON referred to page 4, line 22, AS 14.30.340(a) where it                                                               
clarifies that private schools also include religious schools.  The                                                             
EED has no objection to clarifying that.                                                                                        
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Dr. Johnson what were the parts he wasn't as                                                               
enthusiastic about.                                                                                                             
Number 1010                                                                                                                     
DR. JOHNSON explained that the issue that gives the EED the                                                                     
greatest concern is on page 4, line 27, which says "A parent who                                                                
teaches a child at home may refuse special education and related                                                                
services."  There is some responsibility in a part of this state                                                                
that if a parent who is home schooling a child with particular                                                                  
disabilities, the state has an obligation to provide that service.                                                              
It could be stretched to the point that the state would have an                                                                 
obligation to go through some sort of due process and procedural                                                                
safeguards on behalf of that child.  The federal law is pretty                                                                  
clear that while parents certainly have lots of responsibilities,                                                               
they cannot deny special education services to a child                                                                          
unilaterally.  This would become a concern with the more severely                                                               
disabled children and less  of a concern with a child with a mild                                                               
learning disability.                                                                                                            
CHAIRMAN DYSON assumed that if the parent was refusing services                                                                 
that were significant to the child, there might be a child in need                                                              
of aid [CINA] case.  That would be one way to remedy this.                                                                      
DR. FORD-SLACK referred to Representative Kemplen's question about                                                              
GT and noted the GT piece may require more work because currently                                                               
there is no one in the EED who does that particular piece.                                                                      
Number 1209                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE referred to page 4, line 27, "A parent who                                                                 
teaches a child at home may refuse special education and related                                                                
services."  He knows there is a concern with DFYS [Division of                                                                  
Family and Youth Services] when a child is being home schooled;                                                                 
there is no way to find out whether that child is getting any type                                                              
of appropriate education because all the tracking requirements were                                                             
removed.  He doesn't believe that DFYS could take any action simply                                                             
because the DFYS would not know where these people are.  Nobody has                                                             
an address for them.  That is a concern.  Dr. Johnson mentioned                                                                 
that parents could not unilaterally decide that their child would                                                               
not receive special education services.  He asked why HB 301 is                                                                 
saying parents can unilaterally decide to refuse services if IDEA                                                               
says specifically they can't.                                                                                                   
DR. JOHNSON answered that he doesn't believe that a parent has the                                                              
right to refuse special education services especially in extreme                                                                
cases.  Once it becomes evident that that is occurring in a home,                                                               
the school district is aware of it, then the local school district                                                              
would have an obligation to investigate that because then it falls                                                              
under the childfind.                                                                                                            
Number 1303                                                                                                                     
DR. FORD-SLACK added that the issue of IDEA and the stance on the                                                               
current court cases, suggest a strong push to recognize that IDEA                                                               
is a civil rights law attached to the child, not to the parent nor                                                              
anyone else.  This was an amendment that was put forward and the                                                                
EED raised the particulars of current cases, none within the Ninth                                                              
District Court which is Alaska's court.  On the East Coast, there                                                               
was a case of "educational abuse" where a parent made a decision                                                                
not to accept special education and related services.  The way the                                                              
current law stands now, once a parent has agreed to the initial                                                                 
placement, then the parent doesn't have a right to take away                                                                    
special education and related services from a child because that                                                                
right on the initial placement transfers to the child, and the                                                                  
district is required then to go forth and become the child's                                                                    
advocate if that was needed.  Those are very rare circumstances.                                                                
DR. FORD-SLACK noted this has become problematic in Alaska because                                                              
there isn't a way currently to have parents let the department know                                                             
they are home schooling.  There are certain special factors in                                                                  
IDEA, not only for medically fragile children but for deaf and                                                                  
blind children, that they are to have certain services presented to                                                             
them.  It is her understanding that out of the federal Office of                                                                
Special Education Programs [OSEP], that if a district were in a                                                                 
situation where it knew of a child who had had special education,                                                               
was now being home schooled, was for example deaf and not receiving                                                             
any communication assistance or had an opportunity to communicate                                                               
with life peers, that the OSEP would view that as the                                                                           
responsibility of the district to advocate.  The way the bill                                                                   
currently reads gives the EED some pause.  There are other avenues                                                              
where that might occur and might better serve the state of Alaska,                                                              
but the federal law is fairly clear about the advocacy role when a                                                              
district needs to do that.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked if the EED has anyone on staff that                                                                
oversees or supervises the GT services.                                                                                         
DR. JOHNSON answered no, the EED does not have anyone that is the                                                               
point person on GT.  The EED was told by the federal government                                                                 
through corrective action that the department could no longer use                                                               
the federally paid special education staff so that was stopped.                                                                 
The EED hasn't reorganized in anyway because there isn't any                                                                    
general fund appropriation to provide that kind of service.  The                                                                
type of technical assistance would come through the quality school                                                              
team leaders--there is one assigned to every school district--and                                                               
the team leaders may or may not have a background in GT, but that                                                               
would be the level of technical assistance and support that would                                                               
be received today.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked Dr. Johnson if the quality schools                                                                 
funding could be a source of funding for that type of evaluation.                                                               
DR. JOHNSON replied no, the EED has people called "quality school                                                               
team leaders," and that is an attempt on the part of the department                                                             
to break down some of the bureaucracy so a district has one contact                                                             
person in the department.  If the district has an issue, it goes to                                                             
that contact person first, and that person is responsible for                                                                   
getting the answer if he/she doesn't have the answer.  It has                                                                   
nothing to do with GT necessarily.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked Dr. Johnson how he would respond if GT                                                             
were to be inserted on page 2, line 15.                                                                                         
DR. JOHNSON answered if that were put in there, the EED would find                                                              
someone else in the department who was not paid with special                                                                    
education dollars to perform that function.  That would be doable                                                               
if that were the wish of the legislature.  The EED is not providing                                                             
any direct support for GT out of the department because there is no                                                             
financial support to do that.  It would really be describing what                                                               
is occurring in the state in relationship to GT.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL referred to page 4, line 27-28, "A parent                                                                
who teaches a child at home may refuse special education and                                                                    
related services."  He said personally he would like to see that                                                                
stay in there.  He knows of a family who has a deaf son and taught                                                              
him in a certain way that may not have been agreed upon by the                                                                  
local school district and maybe not even by the way IDEA said and                                                               
yet still had a very well-rounded education.  He asked if Dr.                                                                   
Johnson is telling him that the local school district could come                                                                
and remove that child from that education if there is a contest on                                                              
the degree on quality of education.                                                                                             
DR. JOHNSON answered he doesn't believe it is quite that black and                                                              
white.  The district's responsibility would be to investigate the                                                               
type of education that the child was receiving and work with the                                                                
family to determine whether that would be the appropriate education                                                             
and whether it is meeting this child's needs.  The district simply                                                              
would not have the authority to go in and say "What you're doing is                                                             
Number 1637                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN DYSON commented that if the parents agree to the adoption                                                              
of a plan that then that invites into the process an advocate who                                                               
will look out for the children.                                                                                                 
DR. FORD-SLACK said when someone suggests to a school district that                                                             
his/her child might require special education services, a team                                                                  
meets and decides what evaluations will take place.  The parent                                                                 
must sign off on the evaluation.  If the parent does not sign off                                                               
on the evaluation at that first step, it goes nowhere unless a                                                                  
district was so inclined to believe that the child was really not                                                               
receiving what he/she needed.  That would be an unusual                                                                         
circumstance.  After the evaluation, when all the data is brought                                                               
back, and the team says "Yes, we believe your child requires                                                                    
special education services," the parent has another opportunity to                                                              
say yes or no.  If the parent signs off on the initial placement,                                                               
the rights transfer to the child at that point.  Normally the                                                                   
parents exercise procedural safeguards which are mediation,                                                                     
complaint investigation and due process hearings.  If it were a                                                                 
case of educational abuse, the district is supposed to, under this                                                              
law, advocate for the child if the district believes that this                                                                  
child was not receiving a proper educational program.  The district                                                             
must start a due process hearing, which means an independent due                                                                
process hearing officer, who has been trained by the state, is                                                                  
brought forth, and both parties bring forward the evidence.  The                                                                
hearing officer makes the decision as to whether that child is                                                                  
receiving correct educational services at home or whether he/she is                                                             
not getting the needed education.                                                                                               
CHAIRMAN DYSON said once the parent signs the paperwork the second                                                              
time, the child has an advocate, and the parent irrevocably shares                                                              
the responsibility for at least the child's education-related                                                                   
services with an advocate.                                                                                                      
DR. FORD-SLACK answered yes, in very broad terms because largely,                                                               
special education is not about trying to push a parent in that                                                                  
position.  Everyone is interested in protecting the child and                                                                   
looking for the best way to educate that child.  The next step                                                                  
would probably be when the transfer of rights occurs at age 18.  At                                                             
that point, that child then receives all of the rights to take over                                                             
his/her own education, and he/she could say "I don't want it                                                                    
anymore" and he/she could walk away from it.                                                                                    
Number 1835                                                                                                                     
SANJA BOLLING testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  She is                                                              
a parent of "another health impairment child," and she agrees with                                                              
Faye Nieto's position statement.  She read into the record the                                                                  
testimony of FAYE NIETO:                                                                                                        
     PARENTS, Inc. is funded by the U.S. Department of                                                                          
     Education, Office of Special Education Programs to                                                                         
     improve early intervention, educational, and transitional                                                                  
     services and results for children with disabilities                                                                        
     through coordinated technical assistance, support and                                                                      
     dissemination of information activities and services.                                                                      
     PARENTS, Inc. to meet the mandate that is required:                                                                        
     assist parents to understand the provisions of federal                                                                     
     IDEA, procedural safeguards, alternative methods of                                                                        
     dispute resolution, such as mediation, decision-making                                                                     
     processes that pertain to development of Individual                                                                        
     Education Programs under part B and Individual Family                                                                      
     Service Plans under part C and the services therein so                                                                     
     ensured through education reform activities like the                                                                       
     conformance of state and federal law through passage of                                                                    
     HB 301.                                                                                                                    
     PARENTS, Inc. is compelled to let parents and decision                                                                     
     makers know the good things have resulted form IDEA best                                                                   
     practice:  millions of children are now educated in their                                                                  
     community schools, 9 percent increase in graduation                                                                        
     rates, twice the opportunity to become employed versus                                                                     
     those not transitioned, parents are equal partners in                                                                      
     their child's education.                                                                                                   
     PARENTS, Inc. in an effort to ensure that minimal or                                                                       
     better standards were set for Alaska's children with                                                                       
     disabilities engaged in a process that compared state law                                                                  
     to federal law, state regulation to federal regulation,                                                                    
     proposed repeals and changes to state law as compared to                                                                   
     federal law and regulation along with analysis of other                                                                    
     public advocates, legal counsel and parent comments                                                                        
     gathered during our statewide training, forum, regional                                                                    
     advocate, e-mail and other pertinent contacts that                                                                         
     totaled 67,000 FY 00 year to date.  Review of this data                                                                    
     yielded the following recommendations:                                                                                     
          Protections for Surrogate Parent appointment was                                                                      
     added back into law;                                                                                                       
          Annual review of Special Education Services by the                                                                    
     legislature will afford continued parent input into                                                                        
     school improvement/reform activities;                                                                                      
          Extended due process hearing timeline from six                                                                        
     months to one year which has been found acceptable by                                                                      
     state and federal courts;                                                                                                  
          Language for gifted programs was expanded to include                                                                  
     the types of services and protections and remain                                                                           
     confident that once HB 301 is passed the [EED] through                                                                     
     regulation will now be able to strengthen this program                                                                     
     and fulfill the necessity for separateness from IDEA                                                                       
          Children with disabilities have the right to receive                                                                  
     services when enrolled in religious schools thus                                                                           
     expanding the options for educational choice;                                                                              
          Parents who home school have the right to refuse                                                                      
     special education services, thereby protecting a parents                                                                   
     right to privacy and right to raise their children as                                                                      
     they see fit.                                                                                                              
     PARENTS, Inc. through discussions with [EED]                                                                               
     Administration and legal counsel has been assured that                                                                     
     the regulation process will include a complete review of                                                                   
     stakeholder comment that will be used to satisfactorily                                                                    
     amend so a conceptual framework with IDEA service                                                                          
     provision can result that will meet the needs of Alaska's                                                                  
     special education students.  We are confident that the                                                                     
     [EED] and State School Board will keep their word as we                                                                    
     work together to bring the best of practices to our                                                                        
     Alaskan educational system.                                                                                                
     We understand and support the passage of HB 301 and the                                                                    
     recommendations for stakeholder input to the regulatory                                                                    
     process as stated by PARENTS, Inc. and by so doing, urge                                                                   
     quick action that will ensure Alaska's compliance with                                                                     
     federal law.                                                                                                               
     This statement was signed by 17 parents of disabled                                                                        
Number 2073                                                                                                                     
ROBERT BRIGGS, Staff Attorney, Disability Law Center of Alaska,                                                                 
came forward to testify.  He said the Disability Law Center of                                                                  
Alaska is pleased to see changes in Version G to accommodate some                                                               
concerns raised in regard to the original bill.  There are still                                                                
some parts of the bill that have slight problems with regard to the                                                             
statute of limitations.  The Disability Law Center has expressed                                                                
its legal opinion that the statute of limitations should be for two                                                             
years, but the one year statute really presents the opportunity for                                                             
probably most cases to be presented in a timely fashion.  To be                                                                 
tested it will require someone to have missed that one year                                                                     
deadline and then raise the legal issue of the validity of the                                                                  
statute.  He didn't think the Disability Law Center would be the                                                                
one to challenge that.                                                                                                          
MR. BRIGGS went on the say that the Disability Law Center was a bit                                                             
disappointed that there wasn't support for the idea of having a                                                                 
body of substantive law that stood apart and separate from the                                                                  
federal law, but the effect of this bill is understood to                                                                       
incorporate by reference the existing federal laws, the framework                                                               
for Alaska.  That leaves some nuances of state law that will have                                                               
to be resolved because the federal IDEA leaves to state discretion                                                              
certain issues.  One of those issues left to state discretion has                                                               
already come up in this hearing and that has to do with the power                                                               
of a parent to refuse to agree to certain special education or                                                                  
related services.                                                                                                               
MR. BRIGGS respectfully disagreed with the representations made                                                                 
about the state of the law with regard to the rights of a parent to                                                             
decline to consent to specific special education or related                                                                     
services under federal law.  He cited Federal Register, Volume 64,                                                              
Number 48, Friday, March 12, 1999, Rules and Regulations, 12449,                                                                
regulations adopted to implement the changes in IDEA 1997.  The                                                                 
regulations define parental consent which basically specifies when                                                              
parental consent is required.  "Page 12450 (b) Refusal.  If the                                                                 
parents of a child with a disability refuse consent for initial                                                                 
evaluation or a reevaluation, the agency may continue to pursue                                                                 
those evaluations by using the due process procedures under                                                                     
300.507-300.509, or the mediation procedures under   300.506 if                                                                 
appropriate, except to the extent inconsistent with State law                                                                   
relating to parental consent."                                                                                                  
MR. BRIGGS noted that this basically gives the legislature the                                                                  
power to define the powers of the parent in Alaska with regard to                                                               
special education.  If the legislature decides that parents should                                                              
have the absolute power to refuse special education or related                                                                  
services, it can be done as a matter of state law, and it becomes                                                               
binding on the department and on school districts.  There is room                                                               
here for state control of this process.  He advocated in his                                                                    
previous comments that the Disability Law Center believes that                                                                  
parents should have the right to refuse special education and                                                                   
related services irregardless of whether their child is being                                                                   
taught at home.  With regard to Version G, page 4, line 27, he                                                                  
respectfully suggested the word "who teaches a child at home" be                                                                
deleted, so any parent may refuse services.                                                                                     
MR. BRIGGS based this on complaints heard from some parents.  It is                                                             
not unknown for a school district to employ school psychologists                                                                
part-time.  Those school psychologists have private practices so                                                                
students are referred for special education services to somebody                                                                
who has a private practice he/she wants to build up and maintain;                                                               
it is a conflict of interest.  He believes a parent ought to have                                                               
the power to say "No I don't think my kid needs this service.  No                                                               
I don't think this service is required for my kid."                                                                             
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if there is any part that happens with                                                                     
disabled children in their educational experience that includes                                                                 
them being given psychoactive drugs.                                                                                            
MR. BRIGGS answered medication of children while they are in school                                                             
is an issue, especially for parents of hyperactive children; the                                                                
drug of choice is Ritalin.  There is a great deal of dispute about                                                              
whether Ritalin is appropriately prescribed.  He can't cite the                                                                 
percentages of children in school who are prescribed psychoactive                                                               
drugs, but there have been news reports about the increased amount                                                              
of drugs given to young children without appropriate testing.                                                                   
TAPE 00-40, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2350                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if parents and the public can be assured that                                                              
every child that is prescribed psychoactive drugs is done by a                                                                  
psychiatrist or medical doctor who is specifically trained and has                                                              
does enough analysis and monitoring of the child to know.                                                                       
MR. BRIGGS said the one thing that stands to protect parents and                                                                
children are the laws regarding medical negligence and licensing of                                                             
doctors who prescribe drugs.  Those are the primary protections.                                                                
The rights under the IDEA for a parent, unless those rights are                                                                 
expanded, are to disagree with the IEP.  If the school district                                                                 
refuses to accede from its position, for example, a particular                                                                  
child needs a related service of psychotherapy including a medical                                                              
regimen, the parent's avenue is to request a fair hearing.  He                                                                  
believes there is enough animosity between parents and school                                                                   
districts without needing to add fuel to the flames by requiring a                                                              
parent to have to go to an administrative fair hearing to get a                                                                 
ruling that the child doesn't have to be put on drugs.  His point                                                               
is if the right is defined up-front, the parent has the absolute                                                                
right to refuse to consent to a particular special education or                                                                 
related service.  Yet the school district does have the power under                                                             
IDEA, if it believes that a particular decision by a parent so                                                                  
endangers the child, that the child becomes a child in need of aid,                                                             
the district has a legal obligation to make a report to DFYS.                                                                   
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Briggs to tell him again how drugs come                                                                
into education.                                                                                                                 
MR. BRIGGS answered usually a child is referred for related                                                                     
services, and those related services may include psychotherapy or                                                               
psychiatric treatment.  As part of that treatment, drugs are                                                                    
prescribed by the treating physician.                                                                                           
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the drug prescription would show up in the                                                              
MR. BRIGGS said usually the way it shows up is that the school                                                                  
district will assist the child in following the drug regimen that                                                               
is prescribed.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said he sees two sides to this and asked if                                                                
the EED and Mr. Briggs could have conversation here.  He commented                                                              
that the committee has heard diametrically opposed opinions.                                                                    
Number 2197                                                                                                                     
PHILLIP REEVES, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section,                                                             
Civil Division(Juneau), Department of Law, came forward to testify                                                              
on behalf of the EED.  He stated that the plain language of the                                                                 
regulation that was just read doesn't say what has been suggested.                                                              
The regulation says If parents of a child with a disability refuse                                                              
consent for initial evaluation or reevaluation, the agency may                                                                  
continue to pursue those evaluations.  He noted only the initial                                                                
evaluation and reevaluation are being talked about.  There is                                                                   
nothing in the regulations that says once there is an IEP process,                                                              
that the IEP team does not regulate the education of that child.                                                                
This regulation doesn't provide that type of loophole.  At the                                                                  
evaluation level of the special education program, the parent has                                                               
the opportunity to say "No, I don't want evaluations."  But once                                                                
the program has been entered into, and there is an IEP team and an                                                              
educational plan, then it is the IEP team under the federal law                                                                 
that makes those type of determinations.  The parents have to be                                                                
included in the IEP team; they are not excluded from that.  The                                                                 
idea that parents could unilaterally pick and choose elements of                                                                
this plan would be directly against what the federal IDEA requires.                                                             
These regulations only specifically deal with initial evaluation or                                                             
Number 2133                                                                                                                     
MR. BRIGGS said Mr. Reeves is ignoring the reality that if a parent                                                             
disagrees with an evaluation, the parent always has a right to                                                                  
request a reevaluation.  If a school district determines that a                                                                 
related service is required, and that related service includes                                                                  
psychotherapy for example, and the parent disagrees that the                                                                    
psychotherapy is necessary, the parent requests either a                                                                        
reevaluation by the department or an independent evaluation.  The                                                               
question of whether the parent can be compelled to accept a plan                                                                
that he/she doesn't agree with, he believes that the parent always                                                              
has the power and the right to request a fair hearing.                                                                          
MR. BRIGGS referred to the Federal Register, Volume 64, Number 48,                                                              
Friday, March 12, 1999, Rules and Regulations, page 12450, (3)(d)                                                               
Additional State consent requirements.  That heading implies that                                                               
the state may provide additional requirements with regard to                                                                    
consent.  "In addition to the parental consent requirements                                                                     
described in paragraph (a) of this section, a State may require                                                                 
parental consent for other services and activities under this part                                                              
if it ensures that each public agency in the State establishes and                                                              
implements effective procedures to ensure that a parent's refusal                                                               
to consent does not result in a failure to provide the child with                                                               
FAPE" [free and appropriate public education].  The point here is                                                               
the state has the power to decide how much power a parent's consent                                                             
has in this process.  The limit on what the state can do is there                                                               
must be procedures to ensure that a parent's refusal to consent                                                                 
does not result in a failure to provide the child with FAPE.                                                                    
MR. BRIGGS believes this can be implemented through the EED's                                                                   
regulations.  There is a way the department can ensure that school                                                              
districts have the power and the procedure by which it can seek to                                                              
ensure that when there is a situation where a parent denies                                                                     
consent, that the school district can try to ensure that FAPE is                                                                
provided.  One process is finding that a child is a child in need                                                               
of aid.                                                                                                                         
Number 2010                                                                                                                     
MR. REEVES said there is this provision indeed that says that as                                                                
long as each educational agency does provide a FAPE that parental                                                               
consent can be provided for specific services or activities under                                                               
this part.  He suspects this can be read to say it's talking about                                                              
drugs, that it could be said specifically that parental consent is                                                              
needed for that, but if the suggestion is that language is just                                                                 
going to be put into the special education law to allow parents to                                                              
unilaterally pick and choose which part of the IEP will apply to                                                                
their child, he believes individualized education programs are the                                                              
heart of the entire federal law, and that is dismantling it and                                                                 
allowing parents to make unilateral decisions, despite the fact                                                                 
that the team doesn't see things in that light.  He is sure that                                                                
the EED and each school district would strongly disagree with the                                                               
idea there is going to be a unilateral parental choice as opposed                                                               
to having the IEP team, which includes educators, psychologists,                                                                
and experts, make these program determinations.                                                                                 
Number 1952                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said the parents he has talked to would say                                                                
that they and their child should have veto power over any decision                                                              
made by the team.  He guesses that the premise has to be that the                                                               
bottom line lies with the parent when talking about the IEP.                                                                    
MR. REEVES said he is simply stating how the federal law is set up,                                                             
and it is a federal program that is providing the funding that the                                                              
state is required to comply with in order to meet the requirements                                                              
of the federal law.  The suggestion that the IEP team is not a good                                                             
idea, that is the heart of the federal program.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said the IEP is an excellent idea, but what                                                                
drives the IEP should be the needs of the child with the concerns                                                               
of the parent over the needs and desires of the team.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked if the entire plan was being revoked                                                               
or part of the plan; or is the team there to augment the education                                                              
as it sees or is the team there to have the parent augment as                                                                   
he/she sees; and is then consent able to modify the team's                                                                      
authority or is it to give the parent authority.  It seems if the                                                               
parent has the right of revoking consent at any time then it seems                                                              
like it would be the whole plan.                                                                                                
Number 1820                                                                                                                     
MR. BRIGGS answered that he believes the answer is in the                                                                       
regulations, Federal Register, Volume 64, Number 48, Friday, March                                                              
12, 1999, Rules and Regulations, page 12450 (e) "Limitation.  A                                                                 
public agency may not use a parent's refusal to consent to one                                                                  
service or activity under paragraphs (a) and (d) of this section to                                                             
deny the parent or child any other service, benefit, or activity or                                                             
the public agency, expectation as required by this part."  That                                                                 
would have no meaning unless the parent had the power to say there                                                              
is a particular service I don't want my child to have.  He                                                                      
suggested a change in Version G, page 4, lines 27-28, where it says                                                             
"a parent who teaches a child at home may refuse special education                                                              
and related services."  He suggested striking "who teaches a child                                                              
at home" and add at the end "the department may adopt by regulation                                                             
procedures to ensure that a parent's refusal to consent does not                                                                
result in a failure to provide the child with FAPE."  That leaves                                                               
to the department's discretion a procedure for taking the                                                                       
initiative to ensure FAPE for a child.  He believes the most                                                                    
appropriate procedure would be as in subparagraph (b) to request a                                                              
due process fair hearing or to invoke mediation procedures.                                                                     
Number 1686                                                                                                                     
MR. REEVES said he is trying to avoid being the education program                                                               
person rather than the attorney here.  He reiterated that while on                                                              
12450 (d) a State may require parental consent for other services                                                               
or activities under this part, the suggestion that parental consent                                                             
is required for absolutely every element of an IEP certainly would                                                              
have a tremendous administrative affect on the program.  If that is                                                             
the choice, he guesses there would be a fiscal note connected to                                                                
that, and the way out is a due process hearing anytime there is a                                                               
disagreement.  That is not necessarily a direct legal suggestion,                                                               
but he believes it is a substantial change to the program.                                                                      
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if he understood Mr. Reeves to say that having                                                             
in state law or regulation a parent's right to opt out may put the                                                              
state at odds with the federal IDEA program and maybe get the state                                                             
in trouble.                                                                                                                     
MR. REEVES said there are specific provisions regarding deaf                                                                    
programs and so forth.  It would seem that the federal law in one                                                               
case is saying these are minimum requirements, whereas in this                                                                  
case, it is backing to the general requirement for a FAPE.  A FAPE                                                              
is an appropriate education under the requirements of the federal                                                               
regulations so that would become the issue.  What is suggested is                                                               
the parent can opt out and then the district would have to file for                                                             
due process hearing and argue that there is no longer a FAPE being                                                              
provided if this element of the plan in not there.                                                                              
CHAIRMAN DYSON said if this sentence is in here that a parent may                                                               
refuse special education and related services, the federal                                                                      
government isn't going to look at that and say "you don't get your                                                              
$14.6 million because you've got this contrary provision in here."                                                              
MR. REEVES said his suggestion is it would certainly be more                                                                    
appropriate to identify particular types of services that fall                                                                  
under this as opposed to have a catch-all that anything that is not                                                             
agreed to is out.  The federal government would look at it on a                                                                 
case by case basis.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Mr. Briggs what the parents involvement                                                              
is in the IEP and their legal authority under the development of an                                                             
IEP now.  He wondered if they have the ability to refuse services.                                                              
Number 1541                                                                                                                     
MR. BRIGGS said as he reads this current state regulation, they                                                                 
don't have, AAC 52.200 "Consent of a parent must be obtained before                                                             
conducting an initial evaluation or initial placement of a child in                                                             
a program ... except as set out in (a) of this section, parental                                                                
consent may not be required as a condition of any benefit to a                                                                  
parent or child."  He believes the department is interpreting that                                                              
phrase "may not be" as needing the consent to continue to provide                                                               
FAPE.  He believes that is somewhat inconsistent with federal law                                                               
and believes that regulation needs to be changed.                                                                               
MR. BRIGGS stated under federal law, a parent always has the power                                                              
if he/she feels strongly about a child's IEP.  Keep in mind the                                                                 
school district usually drafts the IEP and puts it in front of the                                                              
parent and says "Sign off on this," and if the parent refuses, the                                                              
team says "Fine, we don't need your signature, we're going to go                                                                
ahead and implement the IEP and if you don't like it, take us to a                                                              
fair hearing."  That is the remedy for a parent if he/she disagrees                                                             
with the IEP; he/she has to go to a fair hearing.                                                                               
MR. BRIGGS suggested that it makes better sense to give the parent                                                              
the opportunity to go for mediation as well as the opportunity to                                                               
go for a fair hearing.  It is a procedural difference that doesn't                                                              
make any difference.  That right is going to exist no matter how                                                                
this issue is adopted.  He believes the legislature has the power                                                               
to make it a matter of state law that consent shall be required,                                                                
and that consent can be revoked with regard to a particular service                                                             
or part of the IEP.   He doesn't believe it will have much fiscal                                                               
impact because most parents who have children with disabilities in                                                              
the schools want to work with the school district.  The situation                                                               
where this is going to be important is the rare situation where a                                                               
parent disagrees with the school district over a specific item in                                                               
the IEP.  It at least allows the opportunity for a parent to say                                                                
"No, I'm not going to send him to that psychiatrist, but I agree                                                                
with the rest of the plan," and the school district can implement                                                               
the rest of the plan without forcing the parent to take the whole                                                               
plan to a fair hearing.                                                                                                         
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Briggs to pencil out some language to get                                                              
to that point if the committee chose to go that way.                                                                            
Number 1366                                                                                                                     
MR. REEVES said the way the system is set up under the federal                                                                  
regulations, which are essentially what the state has been                                                                      
following and will continue to follow, is that an IEP team made up                                                              
of the parents, district representative, and representatives that                                                               
the parents want, gets together to consider the evaluation of the                                                               
child to determine what the child's needs are and develops a                                                                    
program for the child.  If the parents don't agree that the program                                                             
provides an appropriate education, then they have the recourse to                                                               
mediation and a due process hearing.  The district responsibility                                                               
is to provide a FAPE which means it meets the requirements of the                                                               
federal regulations, and as long as the district provides that                                                                  
under the federal law, the district isn't required to provide the                                                               
absolute best for every child.  Obviously, that would be more                                                                   
expensive than appropriate.  It seems to a certain extent that this                                                             
turns the process on its head to suggest that now the parent, now                                                               
if it is only in the negative, the parent can only decline certain                                                              
services as opposed to suggest that these additional services must                                                              
be provided, then perhaps there is not a great fiscal note then the                                                             
question just becomes is that still a FAPE.  Is the parent's                                                                    
unilateral decision making what is expected under the federal law?                                                              
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked what happens if there is an accusation that                                                                
the parents are not doing a FAPE.                                                                                               
MR. REEVES said it is actually the district's responsibility to                                                                 
provide the FAPE.  In this case, it has been suggested that if the                                                              
parents removed elements from the plan, and the district felt now                                                               
that plan no longer offers a FAPE because something is gone that                                                                
was necessary, then the district would have the authority to go                                                                 
into a due process hearing and ask a hearing officer to make that                                                               
determination.  The FAPE would still be the requirement of the                                                                  
federal law; it's just that the district would go forward to say                                                                
"We have to have this element even though the parent doesn't want                                                               
Number 1282                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked what happens if the hearing officers agrees                                                                
the child is not getting a FAPE.                                                                                                
MR. REEVES answered that typically it is the parents who argue and                                                              
then the district is ordered to implement the changes necessary to                                                              
provide a FAPE.  In this case, if the hearing officer determined                                                                
there was not a FAPE because the parents have removed elements, it                                                              
is difficult for him to see how there's going to be any authority                                                               
for the hearing officer to order the parent to put that back in.                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked what lever the government has on the                                                                       
parents--take them to court, get a court order, contempt of court?                                                              
MR. REEVES replied in talking about related services, that is a                                                                 
little different because typically, related services are not                                                                    
provided by the school district.  They are outside of school hours.                                                             
He would believe if any hearing officer ruled that any element of                                                               
the plan which was part of the school's program was necessary for                                                               
a FAPE, then the district would simply implement the plan with the                                                              
elements that the parents had disagreed with.  The parents' option                                                              
under the federal law is to remove their child and place him/her in                                                             
a private program at their own expense if the district is providing                                                             
a FAPE.                                                                                                                         
Number 1112                                                                                                                     
DAVID MALTMAN, Executive Director, Governor's Council on                                                                        
Disabilities & Special Education, Office of the Commissioner,                                                                   
Department of Health & Social Services, testified via                                                                           
teleconference from Anchorage.  He expressed support for CSHB 301,                                                              
Version G, on behalf of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and                                                              
Special Education.  The council continues to prefer a 24-month                                                                  
period in which a parent may request a due process hearing, page 3,                                                             
line 16.  The council agrees with the EED's concerns regarding the                                                              
language about a parent who teaches a child at home refusing                                                                    
special education and related services.  He noted the committee has                                                             
received plenty of advice on that, but the council still remains                                                                
concerned about the refusal of the parents.  It is not clear what                                                               
happens to the child and if the district will proceed with a CINA                                                               
petition if warranted.  He encouraged the committee to move the                                                                 
bill along.                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Maltman if he sees gifted and talented as                                                              
part of the disabled community.                                                                                                 
MR. MALTMAN replied no, not in regards to disability.  The concern                                                              
is the GT children have educational needs too.  The language in the                                                             
CS makes it clear what the districts should do.  He hopes that the                                                              
regulations promulgated by EED will help shape GT education so it                                                               
is improved.  Many parents of GT children are concerned that                                                                    
they'll be losing something.  He hopes with the committee's                                                                     
attention to this provision and an annual report, it will be seen                                                               
whether the department has improved it or if resources are needed                                                               
by the department to provide for a better statewide program.                                                                    
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the Governor's Council on Disabilities &                                                                
Special Education advocates for the gifted and talented children.                                                               
MR. MALTMAN answered under the current statute the council has the                                                              
same dilemma as the department; there is a responsibility there as                                                              
gifted is an exceptional child.  The council doesn't have the same                                                              
resources to form coalitions with parents or to address these                                                                   
issues in terms of adequacy or policy making.  The council's                                                                    
position is no better than the department's to address these issues                                                             
because it has no state funds.                                                                                                  
Number 0856                                                                                                                     
JOHN CYR, President, NEA [National Education Association]-Alaska,                                                               
came forward to testify.  He noted that he had written remarks he                                                               
would leave for the committee.  He expressed concern about remarks                                                              
about the parent's right to refuse services.  He said it's like the                                                             
Ivory soap commercial:  99.44 percent of the time IEP teams include                                                             
parents, they are an integral part.  He doesn't believe that                                                                    
schools whip up a plan and lay them on parents and say sign this or                                                             
else.  That has not been his experience.  It is the whole team                                                                  
working for the child in trying to make an education program that                                                               
works.  The concern is in the other than the 99.44 percent; it is                                                               
that small slice where the school and the parent and the child                                                                  
cannot agree on what the appropriate educational program should be                                                              
for that child.  He believes that the obligation is to the child.                                                               
It is not to make the parents happy; it's not to make the teacher                                                               
happy; it's to make the best educational program for the child.  He                                                             
gets nervous when he hears about parents having the right to refuse                                                             
educational programs.  This sets up some long-term problems that                                                                
everyone pays for.  Ultimately, it is for the child that the school                                                             
has to be responsible.                                                                                                          
Number 0700                                                                                                                     
PEGGY BUSS, Facilitator, Gifted and Talented Program, Fairbanks                                                                 
North Star Borough School District, testified via teleconference                                                                
from Fairbanks and introduced the children who will testify.                                                                    
Number 0691                                                                                                                     
ROSEMARY HANSON testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She                                                               
gave the following testimony:  "I think GT should stay because it                                                               
is good that I can do a little harder work than what the classroom                                                              
provides.  I am looking forward to next year because the main                                                                   
subject is reading.  In sixth grade you do a wax museum.  I really                                                              
like GT because it makes learning fun."                                                                                         
Number 0659                                                                                                                     
EVA RISSE testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She gave                                                                
the following testimony:  "GT is important to me because if it                                                                  
weren't for GT I would be bored in regular classroom.  GT is a                                                                  
place where I go (indisc.--rustling papers) ... considered against                                                              
the law to be underage for kindergarten or first grade.  She was                                                                
only allowed (indisc.) first grade and that was not enough.  She                                                                
was soon tested and made it into GT.  She had so much fun there.                                                                
As soon as she came home and said "Mom, did you know that?  Mom,                                                                
did you know this?"  And Mom hardly ever knew.  GT helped her a lot                                                             
in kindergarten and eventually she (indisc.) first grade.  I have                                                               
been reading that you want to stop funding for GT.  (Indisc.) who                                                               
cares about it.  Why do we have to say this?  If there is law to                                                                
provide funding for the lower challenged people, why not for the                                                                
people of GT?  My GT teacher, Miss (indisc.) and other GT teachers                                                              
bring out the best in those students.  (Indisc.)"                                                                               
Number 0596                                                                                                                     
ALLIE MCGUIRE testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She                                                                 
gave the following testimony:  "I go to (indisc.) in third grade.                                                               
I like the math we do in GT because we are doing algebra right now                                                              
in the third grade GT.  I think GT makes learning fun."                                                                         
Number 0577                                                                                                                     
MS. BUSS said as facilitator for the school district, she feels                                                                 
very strongly that legislation is needed to support gifted                                                                      
education at the state level.  Personnel is needed to support and                                                               
advocate for the district at the state level.                                                                                   
Number 0558                                                                                                                     
CINDY BENNER testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She is                                                               
a parent of two children in the GT program at the elementary level.                                                             
She is concerned what the effect of HB 301 will be on the future of                                                             
the gifted and talented program in Alaska.  She feels Fairbanks has                                                             
been extremely fortunate to have an excellent program and excellent                                                             
teachers that worked hard to provide enrichment for the GT                                                                      
students, and there also is an excellent district-wide coordinator,                                                             
Peggy Buss, who is continually advocating for the needs of the                                                                  
gifted children.  However, this is not the case in all school                                                                   
districts around the state.  She worries about what will happen to                                                              
GT in her district when Peggy is no longer the coordinator.                                                                     
Currently, there is no statewide coordination of the GT program,                                                                
and if HB 301 is passed, there will be no protection of GT because                                                              
there will be no regulations to address the IEP and due process                                                                 
rights of parents and no procedural safeguards.                                                                                 
Number 0490                                                                                                                     
DOROTHY CORBETT testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She                                                               
is a parent of a child in GT.  She said the draft of HB 301, Sec.                                                               
14.30.315 is inadequate for providing education of exceptional                                                                  
children who are gifted.  Specifically on page 4, line 14, the use                                                              
of the word "may" is not adequate and should be changed to "will."                                                              
Since there is no one in EED in GT services, she urged the                                                                      
committee to direct the EED to provide GT staffing.  While it is                                                                
true that the IDEA funds cannot be used for gifted student                                                                      
services, there is funding planned under federal Senate Bill as to                                                              
elementary and secondary education act.  To receive these funds                                                                 
Alaska needs to have a GT program in place and someone at the state                                                             
level to apply for and administer these funds.  She commented that                                                              
Bob Briggs said earlier that the EED did not take time to develop                                                               
a body of law for the state of Alaska, but instead referred to                                                                  
federal law repeatedly in order to satisfy the requirements of the                                                              
IDEA.  Other states have not dropped the ball on this but have                                                                  
split the special education bill into two roughly symmetrical                                                                   
parts:  one for the disabled and special student and one for the                                                                
gifted and special student, and noted that some students may fall                                                               
into both categories.  She urged a similar rewrite to Sec.                                                                      
Number 0382                                                                                                                     
SUSAN SISSON testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She is                                                               
the parent of a ten-year-old GT student.  It is inconceivable to                                                                
her, as a parent of a very gifted child, who comes with all the                                                                 
quirks of being gifted, as well as the intellect, to imagine their                                                              
lives in the public school system at this point in time without the                                                             
support of the gifted program.  Her son relies on having that time                                                              
each week to work at his own capabilities and not be held back by                                                               
the rest of the classroom.  This is a child who entered                                                                         
kindergarten reading on the 12.9 grade level who was in class with                                                              
children learning the letter of the week.  He used to come home and                                                             
practically cry, "Mom, why do I have to do this, I know this."                                                                  
There are similar struggles in fourth grade.  The GT program                                                                    
enables her son to stay in the public school system.  She does not                                                              
know how she would manage to keep her son in a regular classroom                                                                
without him becoming a severe behavior problem if he does not have                                                              
some outlet for his capabilities.  She urged the committee to keep                                                              
the GT programs in the special education programs in the state of                                                               
Number 0285                                                                                                                     
LIZANNE HANSON testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  She is                                                             
a parent of a GT student.  She suggested looking at the bigger                                                                  
picture.  Most people would agree that children who experience                                                                  
developmental disabilities should have some kind of individualized                                                              
education plan put in place.  The gifted children who will be the                                                               
future leaders need to be served also.  Those are the children who                                                              
will become bored in the regular classroom, and they're the ones                                                                
who will drop out.  Regulations are needed at the state level for                                                               
these children.                                                                                                                 
Number 0155                                                                                                                     
PAMELA BICKFORD testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  She                                                               
asked to reserve her testimony for Thursday.  If the hearing isn't                                                              
reopened on Thursday, she will submit her written testimony.                                                                    
Number 0134                                                                                                                     
MARY KLUGHERZ testified via teleconference from Ketchikan.  She                                                                 
agreed with everything that has been said by the parents and                                                                    
students in Fairbanks.  She believes the issue is state leadership.                                                             
She shared her experience with her nine-year-old gifted son.  He                                                                
was ahead of his peers when he entered school, and  the school                                                                  
district refused to test him for GT because "there was not a                                                                    
program until he would be in third grade" which was in violation of                                                             
the statutes.  The next two years were spent using the statutes and                                                             
regulations as a guide and working through the system to get her                                                                
son qualified for services.  After the district refused twice to                                                                
test her son, again in violation of statutes, he was tested at his                                                              
parents' expense.  Using the procedural safeguards currently in                                                                 
place, it took two long years to get him what he needed in                                                                      
educational services.  These services consist of an appropriate                                                                 
education plan that meets his special needs.  Without the                                                                       
procedural safeguards that have been in place for the past 30                                                                   
years, he would have nothing.  That was not the end of it.  At the                                                              
beginning of third grade this year, there was a good appropriate                                                                
education plan in place, however, the teacher refused to implement                                                              
it.  Her son was miserable and was not given challenging work.                                                                  
TAPE 00-41, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MS. KLUGHERZ told the committee that a psychologist said that if                                                                
her son's intellectual needs were not being met, he would be at                                                                 
serious risk for depression, among other things.  Using the                                                                     
statutory procedural safeguards as a backup, the situation was                                                                  
resolved by making adjustments in his curriculum.  He is now happy                                                              
and thriving in his learning environment.  A gifted child needs a                                                               
stimulating, challenging curriculum for his/her mental health.                                                                  
Without the intellectual challenge, gifted children are at serious                                                              
risk for depression, suicide, behavior problems and school                                                                      
dropouts.  Without the state safeguards and protections for gifted                                                              
children, she and her husband would be nowhere with their son.                                                                  
They realized that they will continue to meet resistance by various                                                             
individuals in the school district when it comes to providing the                                                               
necessary curriculum for their child.  These procedural safeguards                                                              
that are currently in place are essential to protect the rights of                                                              
these children.                                                                                                                 
MS. KLUGHERZ noted there are thousands of gifted children in                                                                    
Alaska, and many districts will not make the effort to find these                                                               
children.  Without keeping the statutes in place, gifted children                                                               
will no longer have the opportunity to be provided with an                                                                      
appropriate education in Alaska's schools.  By not protecting these                                                             
children with statutes and ensuring them procedural safeguards, she                                                             
feels that the state will be violating their right to a free and                                                                
appropriate education.                                                                                                          
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Ms. Klugherz what are the procedural                                                                       
safeguards she mentioned.                                                                                                       
Number 0176                                                                                                                     
MS. KLUGHERZ said the statutes currently refer to both children                                                                 
with learning disabilities and children that are gifted and                                                                     
talented.  Everything that applies to a child with a learning                                                                   
disability also applies to a gifted child.  At this point the state                                                             
is trying to make the state statutes come into compliance with the                                                              
federal statutes for children with disabilities.  Because the                                                                   
federal IDEA doesn't cover gifted and talented children, all those                                                              
statutes that currently apply to those populations and eliminating                                                              
them all for the GT children except for two.                                                                                    
Number 0265                                                                                                                     
PAM ROTH testified via teleconference from Ketchikan.  She is a                                                                 
parent of a GT student in Ketchikan.  She urged the committee to                                                                
include GT in HB 301.  Without state leadership, the GT program is                                                              
not likely to happen at the local level.  Her personal experience                                                               
is that the GT program is essential.  It has been a lifeline for                                                                
her nine-year-old child.  His boredom in the regular classroom led                                                              
to problems of self-esteem and depression.  Through his IEP, the                                                                
situation was addressed and remedied.  Taking GT out of this bill                                                               
is a gross omission for a whole population of children that deserve                                                             
safeguards.  Ideally, a separate piece of legislation needs to be                                                               
written for GT, but until that time GT needs to be included in HB
Number 0358                                                                                                                     
MARGO WARING came forward to testify.  She is a parent of a gifted                                                              
child.  She supports the inclusion in HB 301 of the procedural                                                                  
safeguards that have been in place for 30 years for gifted                                                                      
children.  It made sense to legislators 30 years ago, and it still                                                              
makes sense.  She hopes the committee will move that into HB 301.                                                               
She believes that the EED in its effort to separate gifted from                                                                 
special education services is dropping very needed coverage from a                                                              
group of students who also need specially designed educational                                                                  
services.  The EED does have funds that can be reallocated, if                                                                  
necessary, to cover the small cost that might be incurred by the                                                                
continued use of the procedural safeguards by parents of gifted                                                                 
students.  She indicated that Section 9, page 4, lines 11-17, is                                                                
inadequate both in terms of making inclusion of elements of a                                                                   
gifted program discretionary by not having an effective date and                                                                
primarily by not also including those procedural safeguards.  She                                                               
shared copies of an amendment that would provide those procedural                                                               
safeguards, and she encouraged the committee to adopt the                                                                       
Number 0526                                                                                                                     
ROBERT SEWELL came forward to testify.  He is a parent of gifted                                                                
child.  He told the committee that the gifted and talented students                                                             
are markedly underserved in many districts; in some districts they                                                              
are grossly underserved.  The extent of service varies highly                                                                   
across districts but often times occurs only in the context of the                                                              
procedural safeguards which HB 301 is about to eliminate.  He is                                                                
greatly concerned about that.  He urged the committee to rectify                                                                
what is about to occur.  These students can and do study at several                                                             
grade levels above where they are chronologically.  It also                                                                     
involves a significantly different curriculum and sometimes                                                                     
educational counseling.  He fears the elimination of what little is                                                             
left of GT services in many of the school districts.                                                                            
MR. SEWELL agreed with the spirit and letter of HB 301 for it is an                                                             
advance for persons with disabilities.  The issue now is what is                                                                
now not in there.  He suggested adopting something similar to Ms.                                                               
Waring's suggested amendment would rectify the situation.  That                                                                 
would mean the allowed for continued requirement of a child study                                                               
team, an individual education plan and a due process hearing                                                                    
proviso that involves a hearing officer and the ability to grieve                                                               
by parents with the district.  He objects to the removal of those                                                               
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if the permissive language that allows the                                                                 
individual districts to treat the gifted and talented in a way it                                                               
feels appropriate is inadequate; it ought to be mandated statewide                                                              
and not left up to the local school district.                                                                                   
MR. SEWELL responded absolutely.  He is asking to leave the                                                                     
prescriptive language that historically has been part of Alaska                                                                 
Number 0764                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked what would be the problem of removing                                                                
Section 9, Programs for Gifted Children, page 4, lines 11-17 and                                                                
maintaining the statutes and regulations now without Ms. Waring's                                                               
suggested amendment.                                                                                                            
MR. SEWELL answered he couldn't say what all the legal                                                                          
ramifications are.  He believes that would mean that all the                                                                    
safeguards for GT would be eliminated.  That is the problem.  He                                                                
believes that some of the districts would not do the right thing                                                                
for many of the GT students.                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 4:54 p.m. to 4:55 p.m.                                                                       
Number 0865                                                                                                                     
JOAN DANGELI came forward to testify.  She expressed her support                                                                
for HB 301 hoping it will offer more oversight of the special                                                                   
education process.  She has been in the special education process                                                               
for three and a half years for her son.  She suggested that on page                                                             
3, line 16, 12 months should be changed to 24 months.  She shared                                                               
her frustrating experience as a parent with special education for                                                               
her son Quia in the Juneau School District.  She only understood                                                                
her position on the IEP team this past December--her third year of                                                              
special education.  She has just removed her son from the school                                                                
district because the IEP team was not bridging the educational gap.                                                             
The curriculum goals were important to her, and she brought that to                                                             
the IEP team's attention for two years in a row.  Her son was                                                                   
behind every other kindergartner in the second year so she started                                                              
teaching him at home, and he is picking it up.  She felt the                                                                    
problem was how he was being talked to.                                                                                         
MS. DANGELI wondered if Section 4, page 3, line 11, could be                                                                    
amended to read "due process or mediation" because when she brought                                                             
her issues up at the three and a half month mark of going through                                                               
due process, she was so tired she removed her son from the school.                                                              
The IDEA was created to include parents as a legal member of the                                                                
MS. DANGELI said she didn't understand why in trying to get special                                                             
education, there is an IEP that gave 24 hours of the 25 hour school                                                             
week with an aide, who was by law, not permitted to bridge the                                                                  
educational curriculum gap because aides are considered                                                                         
paraprofessionals; the only person in law who could administer                                                                  
education is the special education teacher.  One special education                                                              
teacher at the elementary school for the K-2 students was with the                                                              
students 24 hours of a 25 hour week, the rest was one hour speech.                                                              
She wondered why he was in special education; she can get private                                                               
speech therapy.                                                                                                                 
MS. DANGELI noted that her son was complained about through                                                                     
psychologists' evaluations.  She was pushed for the drug issue for                                                              
three years; every doctor said no.  A specialist in the EED told                                                                
her for her son's specific disability, care must be taken about                                                                 
approaching her son with drugs; a birth defect specialist had to be                                                             
seen to get the idea of the condition of the brain before                                                                       
hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder was diagnosed.  The                                                                 
doctors refused to give her son drugs, but yet she was at odds with                                                             
the school district for three years.  Finally, she realized she                                                                 
wasn't taking her son to the doctor anymore for the school                                                                      
district.  She is not going to give him drugs.                                                                                  
MS. DANGELI is concerned about the district being able to force                                                                 
parents by law to keep their children in special education.  There                                                              
are three members of the team considered professionals:  the speech                                                             
pathologist, the special education teacher and the school                                                                       
psychologist.  They all pushed the drug issue at her, but the                                                                   
doctors and specialists in the disability said no.                                                                              
MS. DANGELI referred to the report mentioned on page 2, line 10-14,                                                             
and said the parents have no right to request data.  She wondered                                                               
why this was by the department and not the "municipals."  When she                                                              
tried to find out if this one teacher could humanly possibly                                                                    
provide special education for all of these students from K-1, if by                                                             
law the aide is not allowed to, she couldn't even get the                                                                       
statistics.  She wondered if the special education teacher has                                                                  
enough hours in the week to even spend time with each of the                                                                    
MS. DANGELI noted that now special education is in an inclusive                                                                 
model instead of an institutional model; but many students cannot                                                               
learn in an inclusive model because of stimulation issues.  Those                                                               
students need a quieter room.  She has suggested that for two years                                                             
for her son and has never gotten it.  She was told there was no                                                                 
merit in her concern.  She would observe her son, and he cannot                                                                 
even hear the teacher.  Nobody tended to him to get the lesson.                                                                 
MS. DANGELI is concerned with the reporting.  She wondered what the                                                             
value of a report is if people can't find out who is doing what and                                                             
if the job is being done with all the money.  She referred to page                                                              
4, line 27, and said she agrees with Mr. Briggs.  She feels it was                                                              
her right to walk away from this district.  "If they weren't                                                                    
teaching him in the school, I don't want them in my home."  She                                                                 
found the whole process tiring.  She wondered if parents should be                                                              
forced to keep their child in a situation that is not producing.                                                                
She is discouraged with the process of education.                                                                               
Number 1349                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Ms. Dangeli if she was not aware of her                                                              
role in the IEP for two years.                                                                                                  
MS. DANGELI answered it was three years.  Mr. Briggs sent her a                                                                 
copy of Special Education and the Law that says parents are a legal                                                             
member of the team; parents are to be one of the writers of that                                                                
educational plan.  For three years the IEP had been handed to her                                                               
to read and sign right there without even having a chance to take                                                               
it home.  When she read it, it was a service plan to outline the                                                                
program and the services the district was legally required by law                                                               
to provide.  It was four pages of "Quia will..." other than the                                                                 
word encourage being listed twice.  She rewrote the IEP herself                                                                 
with two specialists at the EED and PARENTS, Inc. and said "From                                                                
now until year twelfth grade, I will give the IEP to you to sign,"                                                              
respecting good input.  What she went up against on the IEP team                                                                
was disrespect.                                                                                                                 
CHAIRMAN DYSON closed the public hearing on HB 301.  [HB 301 was                                                                
heard and held.]                                                                                                                

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