Our View of the Legislature: Special Education

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Our mission, at 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. We represent the interests of people with disabilities at the Virginia General Assembly.

With less than a week left for committees to conclude their work, the legislature is responding to the remaining bills that concern special education issues.

This morning, the Senate Committee on Education, Subcommittee on public education, considered HB 1461, from Delegate Wiley, which would create a uniform system of discipline across Virginia’s schools. This is a step that would almost certainly lead to greater and even more disproportionate harsh discipline against children of color and children with disabilities. Last week, dLCV issued a public action alert on the bill and spoke in opposition to the bill this morning. The bill had a long line of organizations speaking in opposition. It was defeated!

Please see our report on bills relating to student discipline (January 25, 2023) for additional information about this bill and related bills.

Here are some of the other special education bills we are tracking:

  • SB 1334 (Hashmi), as amended, would have required the state Board of Education to create a “code of ethics” for IEP team participants, to be developed by a coalition of advocacy and school representatives. dLCV worked with the patron to eliminate the enforcement provisions in the original bill. The bill was approved by the full Senate but was tabled in a subcommittee of the House Committee on Rules.
  • SB 943 (Suetterlein) and HB 1554 (Brewer) require all school districts to publicly post the name and contact information of the special education coordinators. Both bills have been approved by both houses. They now move to the Governor for review.
  • HB 1492 (Davis) changes the deadlines by which a school must complete an evaluation and develop an IEP after referral. The bill was approved by both houses and now moves to the Governor for review.
  • SB 830 (Favola) and HB 1659 (Bell) ask the Department of Behavioral Health to develop best practice standards relating to the transfer of records of students with disabilities who reach the age of majority. The House bill has been approved by both houses and now moves to the Governor for review. The Senate version was approved by the full Senate and by the House Committee on Education.
  • HB 1884 (Wampler) would allow students with disabilities to take the Standards of Learning assessments less often than general education students. The bill was revised to ask the SOL work group to consider the effectiveness of such assessments for students with disabilities. The bill was approved by the full House and is now in the Senate Committee on Education.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia will follow the education bills and other bills concerning the rights of people with disabilities throughout the session. We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at ga@dlcv.org or info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.