1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee, Carter
Senate Bill 2716
AN ACT ENTITLED THE "DEAF PERSONS' LITERACY RIGHTS AND EDUCATION ACT"; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS; TO DECLARE CERTAIN LITERACY RIGHTS OF DEAF STUDENTS; TO REQUIRE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS (IEP) FOR EACH DEAF STUDENT AND PRESCRIBE THE COMPONENTS OF SUCH PLAN; TO CREATE AN ADVISORY COMMITTEE APPOINTED BY THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO EXPEDITE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "Deaf Persons' Literacy Rights and Education Act."
SECTION 2. For purposes of this act, the following terms shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Deaf student" means an individual who is eligible for special education services and who cannot readily understand spoken language through hearing alone with or without a hearing aid, and who may also have a speech defect which renders his speech unintelligible to most people with normal hearing.
(b) "Individualized educational program" (IEP) means a statement developed for a student eligible for special education services under Section 602(a)(20) of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
SECTION 3. The following are found to be the literacy rights of deaf students:
(a) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education in which their unique communication mode is respected, utilized and developed to their maximal level of proficiency;
(b) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education in which teachers of the deaf and hard-of-hearing, psychologists, speech therapist, assessors and evaluators, administrators and other education personnel understand the unique nature of deafness and are specifically trained in deaf education;
(c) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education in which teachers of the deaf and hard-of-hearing are proficient in the primary language and communication mode of the children with whom they work;
(d) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education with language mode peers with whom they can communicate directly and fluently and who are of the same, or approximately the same age and ability level; and
(e) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education in which their parents and deaf and hard-of-hearing people have been involved in determining the extent, content and purpose of the programming.
SECTION 4. (1) Subject to appropriations by the Legislature therefor, the State Department of Education shall provide for the development of a written individualized educational program for each deaf student eligible for educational services or equipment, or both, under Sections 37-23-1 through 37-23-157. The following information shall be considered during the development process of the deaf student's individual educational plan:
(a) The student's communicative needs and the families preferred mode of communication. The preferred mode of communication to which the child is accustomed will dictate his/her educational communication mode. The parents or legal guardians shall have the right to determine which mode of communication is appropriate for their child, including, but not limited to, American sign language, English-based manual or signed systems or total communications.
(b) The student's placement will be in the least Restrictive Placement that can provide instruction in the student's preferred mode of communication.
(c) The student's language needs will be identified without regard to the degree of hearing loss. In other words, no assumptions about language programming will be made solely upon the results shown on an audiogram.
(d) A program providing a strong language base will be the primary focus for all deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
(e) Deaf and hard-of-hearing students shall be educated with language mode peers with whom they can communicate directly and fluently and who are of the same or approximately the same age and ability level.
(2) A school district shall provide parents and/or guardians with full information about their child's options for placement. The school district shall provide a full continuum of educational placements for deaf and hard-of-hearing students; the continuum must include regular classes, special classes, special school, home, institution or hospital when required. The full continuum of educational placements shall be explained to the parents and/or guardians at each IEP meeting. Placement decisions will occur only after the child's individual educational, social and vocational needs have been determined and the child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) has been developed with full participation of the parent and/or guardian. Placement decisions will not be made based upon those programs the Local Education Agency has presently available, but will be based on the individual needs of the individual student. Parents and/or guardians and the individual students preferences for placement will be given full consideration in making placement decisions.
SECTION 5. (1) Before July 1, 1997, the State Board of Education shall appoint an advisory committee to expedite the implementation of this act. The committee shall be composed of no more than twelve (12) persons nominated by the State Superintendent of Education from within or outside of the state, including, but not limited to, representatives of the following groups:
(a) The National Federation of the Deaf;
(b) The Mississippi Council of the Deaf;
(c) A parent or guardian of a deaf student;
(d) The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities;
(e) Specialists in education for deaf education;
(f) Employees of the State Department of Education;
(g) Publishers of elementary and high school textbooks; and
(h) Consumers, or an advocate of consumers, of deaf student materials.
(2) The State Superintendent of Education shall appoint a chairperson from among the members of the committee. The committee shall meet upon the call of the Superintendent, and its functions shall be purely advisory in nature and effect. Members of the committee shall receive no compensation or per diem, but each member shall be entitled to reimbursement for all actual and necessary expenses incurred by his participation in the committee's activities.
(3) The committee shall perform the following duties:
(a) Survey ongoing efforts in Mississippi and elsewhere to develop computer software needed for deaf student education; and
(b) Study any other issues that the committee determines are relevant and necessary to the implementation of the act.
(4) Before January 5, 1999, the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education shall report the committee's findings and a summary of its activities to the Legislature. After the report is submitted, the committee shall be dissolved.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.