Our View of the Legislature: Special Education

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Last week, House Courts of Justice, Civil Law subcommittee, defeated the bill that would have prohibited families from being assisted by anyone but an attorney in an IDEA due process hearing.   HB 1381 (Leftwich) proposed to restrict non attorney advocates from assisting families in special education due process hearings.  The bill would have had the state Department of Education develop a training program for non-attorney advocates and barred anyone not so trained from participating in a hearing.  Advocates, families and organizations who work in special education all over the state, including dLCV, opposed the legislation.  Henrico County and other school districts promoted the legislation to try to address what they believed was abusive conduct by one or two lay advocates.

The subcommittee rejected this proposal and urged the advocacy groups to work together to suggest a proposal that might address concerns raised by the schools districts.


Here are some of the other bills affecting special education rights:

HB 134 (Runion) and SB 186 (Dunnavant) direct the Department of Education to develop guidelines for IEP teams to include age-appropriate sex education for children with disabilities.  Both bills have been approved by their chamber of origin, and now go to the other side for expected quick approval.   This proposal did not succeed last year.

SB 214 (Suetterlein) requires a guardian ad litem of a child between the ages of 17-21 to review the child’s IEP as part of its report to the Court.  The bill has been approved by the full Senate.

HB 231 (Freitas) requires that a child with a disability placed in a nonpublic school should receive the per pupil share of special education funding for which the child is eligible. The bill requires each such parent to submit an evaluation or assessment that indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress. The bill is assigned to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education, but that subcommittee is not scheduled to meet again before “crossover,” so the bill seems to be dead.



SB 190 (Peake) would have allowed for the use of state funds (Community Services Act or CSA) to be used in residential or non-residential public school settings in addition to private settings. The bill was approved by Senate Education and Health but continued to 2021 in Senate Finance.

HB 49 (McNamara) and SB 128 (Suetterlein) would have required the Department of Education to develop pilot programs in selected school divisions in Virginia to help children in private placements transition into their local public schools.  These bills were continued to 2021 in subcommittee.

HB 762 (Cole) would have allowed the use of funds under the Children’s Services Act to assist a student to transfer from private school special education programs to public school special education programs.  The bill was continued until 2021.

Have we missed anything?  Let us know – email to info@dlcv.org or call 1-800-552-3962.  The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.