Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
03/10/2016 03:30 PM Senate EDUCATION
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HB 76-GOV COUNCIL ON DISABILITIES/SPECIAL ED 3:48:29 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced the consideration of HB 76. He said it has a zero fiscal note. GRACE ABBOTT, Staff, Representative Charisse Millett, Alaska State Legislature, introduced HB 76 on behalf of the sponsor. She read the sponsor statement: The mission of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education is to, "[create] change that improves the lives of Alaskans with disabilities". Since 1978, the Council has provided a constructive process that has connected the public with policymakers to ensure the thoughtful development of an efficient and seamless service delivery system that meets the needs of individuals with disabilities across their life spans. However, within their enabling statutes, the State of Alaska also included "gifted" persons among the individuals that the Council need work for and support. The Council believes the term "gifted" to be confusing and ill-fitting within the scope of their aims and objectives. Furthermore, they believe "gifted" should be removed for the following reasons: Exceptionality is not a disability that entitles students to special education. Gifted education is a regular education program over which the Council has no oversight. Gifted children are not eligible for additional services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), policies whose adherence is required per the Council's responsibilities. Neither federal nor state law provide for special employment benefits, or special avenues through which to advocate for employment for those classified as gifted. The Governor's Council works tirelessly to advocate for and access housing, employment, independent living, health, transportation and community inclusion for Alaskans with disabilities. Removing the word "gifted" from their enabling statutes allows Alaska law to be updated with the most accurate representation of the mission and work of the Council, as well as provide future Council membership with a clear roadmap for success. 3:51:03 PM MS. ABBOTT presented the bill sectional: Section One: Removes the word "gifted" from the Governor's council on disabilities and special education's enabling statute. Section Two: Removes reference to gifted persons in the council's list of statutory responsibilities and updates references to reflect current U.S. law regarding state councils on developmental disabilities and designated state agencies. 3:51:39 PM SENATOR GARDNER asked if there has been any opposition to the bill. MS. ABBOTT said no. SENATOR GARDNER asked if it is a clean-up bill. MS. ABBOTT said yes. She explained that the Governor's Council of Disabilities and Special Education has been around since 1978 and their advocacy has been strong and consistent for disabled Alaskans. School districts have taken the lead on the education and qualification of gifted students. 3:52:36 PM PATRICK REINHART, Staff, Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, presented information on HB 76. He agreed the bill is a clean-up of their enabling statute. CHRISTIE REINHARDT, Staff, Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, presented information on HB 76. She explained that when the council was created in 1978, the law that covered special education was the Handicapped Children Education Act and it addressed gifted education. Current law, the Individuals with Disability Education Act, does not include gifted education. It has created confusion for some parents looking for advocacy for improvement of gifted education within school districts. She pointed out that gifted education is the responsibility of local school districts as part of general education. There is no special funding at the state or federal level for gifted education and it does not fall under the purview of the council. 3:55:09 PM SENATOR GARDNER understood that gifted education does not fall under the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. MS. REINHARDT said yes. CHAIR DUNLEAVY opened public testimony. He held HB 76 in committee.