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The 2021 session of the General Assembly continues to consider bills and the state budget during this shorter-than-usual session, with “crossover,” the day of the session on which each house must start considering only bills from the other house, scheduled for Saturday, February 6. This session, both the Senate and the House of Delegates have introduced a number of bills that may affect Virginia schoolchildren with special education needs, which we detail below.
At crossover or before, House special education bills passed by the full House will be introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Committee on Education and Health. Similarly, Senate special education bills passed by the full Senate will be introduced in the House of Delegates and assigned to the House Committee on Education. These bills include the following:
House Special Education Bills
HB 762 (Cole)
HB 762 (Cole) would expand eligibility for services under the Children’s Services Act to students who transfer from an approved private school special education program to a public school special education program located within Planning District 16 (Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties, and the towns of Culpeper, Gordonsville, Madison, Orange, Remington, The Plains, Warrenton and Washington). The bill, which was carried forward from the 2020 General Assembly session, was reported from the House Committee on Education and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, but was left in Appropriations on December 4, 2020.
HB 2117 (VanValkenberg)
HB 2117 (VanValkenberg, companion to SB 1313 [Peake]) would require that funds spent for special education services under the Children’s Services Act only be used on educational programs that are licensed by the Department of Education. The bill amends the eligibility for state pool funds to include children and youth previously placed in approved private school educational programs for at least six months who will receive transitional services in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months. Additionally, the bill requires that the Secretary of Education establish a workgroup of stakeholders to develop a plan to transfer Children’s Services Act funds currently reserved for children requiring an educational placement in a private special education day school or residential facility to the Department of Education, and to develop a standardized reporting to enable comparison of private day school rates across the state. This bill was reported from House Education with a substitute incorporating HB 2211 (Plum), which would have required IEP teams to identify any children with disabilities who may need additional services outside of the school setting and refer them to the local family assessment and planning team. HB 2117 was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations, which reported out the bill on January 29.
HB 2182 (Hope)
HB 2182 (Wilt) would require the Board of Education to amend its regulatory definition of “traumatic brain injury” for the purpose of the provision of special education for children with disabilities to include an acquired injury to the brain caused by a medical condition, including stroke, anoxia, infectious disease, aneurysm, brain tumors, and neurological insults resulting from medical or surgical treatments. The current regulatory definition of “traumatic brain injury” includes only an “acquired” brain injury caused by an external physical force. The full House voted to approve this bill on January 28.
HB 2212 (Plum)
HB 2212 (Plum) would require the Office of Children’s Services to provide for the effective implementation of the Children’s Services Act in all localities by regular monitoring of outcomes to identify local programs in need of technical assistance and working with underperforming localities to develop corrective action plans. Reported unanimously from the both the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions and House Appropriations, the bill is under consideration by the full House.
HB 2238 (Kory)
HB 2238 (Kory) would require any private school for students with disabilities to obtain accreditation from an accrediting agency recognized by the Virginia Council for Private Education within three years of the issuance of its initial three-year license. The bill was reported out of House Education and is under consideration by the full House.
HB 2277 (Bell)
HB 2277 (Bell) would provide for a one-year extension of high school for students with disabilities who are poised to turn age 22 this year. This bill is designed to address the impact of COVID-required remote instruction. House Education voted to report and refer the bill to House Appropriations.
HB 2289 (Austin)
HB 2289 (Austin) would amend eligibility for Children’s Services Act state pool of funds to include any child or youth (1) who was previously placed in an approved private school educational program for at least six months and who will receive certain transitional services in a public school setting for no longer than 12 months; or (2) a child or youth whose IEP team has determined that his/her placement in a private special education day school, residential program, or other out-of-school placement could be prevented by receiving specialized or intensive services and supports delivered in the public school setting, IF such services meet certain cost thresholds. The House Health, Welfare and Institutions Subcommittee on Social Services voted to strike the bill from the docket.
HB 2299 (Carr)
HB 2299 (Carr) would require the Department of Education to provide training and guidance documents to local school divisions on the development of IEPs for children with disabilities, and perform other work to ensure the development of high-quality IEPs. The bill was reported from House Education and referred to House Appropriations, which reported it out unanimously with minor amendments.
HB 2314 (Mugler)
HB 2314 (Mugler), would require the Board of Education to amend a certain regulation relating to special education to remove the word “component” following the word “evaluation,” thereby ensuring compliance with the relevant federal regulation and clarifying that the parent of a child with a disability has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the local educational agency. The bill was reported from the House Education Subcommittee on Standards of Learning and Standards of Quality.
HB 2316 (Mundon King)
HB 2316 (Mundon King) would require the Board of Education to amend its regulations to ensure that each education preparation program graduate in a K-12 general education endorsement area demonstrates proficiency in understanding the role of general education teachers on the IEP team. The bill was reported from the House Education Subcommittee on Standards of Learning and Standards of Quality.
Senate Special Education Bills
SB 1133 (Sutterlein)
SB 1133 (Sutterlein) would expand eligibility for use of the state pool of funds under the Children’s Services Act to services that are provided in a public school setting, and would require that private day schools be approved and licensed by the Department of Education or an equivalent out-of-state licensing agency to be eligible for the state pool of funds. The bill requires the Department of Education and relevant local school boards to develop and implement a pilot program for up to four years in two to eight local school divisions in the Commonwealth. The bill was reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health with a substitute, and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations.
SB 1313 (Mason)
SB 1313 (Mason) is the Senate companion bill to HB 2117 (VanValkenberg), detailed above. The Senate Committee on Education and Health reported the bill with a substitute incorporating SB 1099 (Stuart) and SB 1114 (Peake). The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations.
SB 1288 (Dunnavant)
SB 1288 (Dunnavant) would require the Department of Education and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures and effect numerous modifications to existing policies and procedures to improve the administration and oversight of special education in the Commonwealth. The bill was reported from Senate Education and Health with a substitute, and is under consideration by the full Senate as of February 1.
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