1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee
Senate Bill 2049
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 ON THE EDUCATION OF DEAF CHILDREN AND PRESCRIBE ITS DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES; 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 with a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
(b) "Hard-of-hearing student" means an individual with an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.
(c) "Individualized Education Program (IEP)" means a written statement for each child with a disability who is in need of special education as prescribed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, 20 USCA Section 1401.
SECTION 3. The following are found to be the literacy rights of deaf students:
(a) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall be provided educational programs and services designed to provide individualized, appropriate special education and related services that enable a child to reach his or her appropriate and uniquely designed goals for success. A child's mode of communication will be respected, utilized and developed in conformity with the child's IEP.
(b) Deaf and hard-of-hearing children shall have an education in which teachers of the deaf and hard-of-hearing, psychologists, speech therapists, assessors and evaluators, administrators and other education personnel understand the unique nature of deafness and are appropriately trained in deaf education, as prescribed in the Individual with Disabilities Act, as amended, 20 USCA Section 1412.
(c) Placement decisions shall be determined as prescribed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, in 20 USCA Section 1412. Local school districts will consider forming cooperative programs, when necessary, to provide appropriate services for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
(d) Parents shall have any and all rights as provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, including the right to equal participation in the development of their child's IEP, the right to require review of their child's IEP, and the right to an impartial due process hearing if they disagree with the services addressed on the IEP.
SECTION 4. (1) 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 will be considered when developing the child's IEP. The parents or legal guardians shall have the right to express their opinions regarding the mode of communication appropriate for their child, including, but not limited to, American sign language, English-based manual or signed systems or total communications. The choice or placement shall be based solely on the child's need as determined by a multi-disciplinary IEP assessment of the school district.
(b) The student's placement will be in the least restrictive placement that can provide instruction in the mode of communication recommended by the IEP assessment.
(c) A program providing a strong language base will be the primary focus for all deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
(d) 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 to the extent provided in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, 20 USCA Section 1412.
(2) A school district shall provide parents and/or guardians with full information about their child's options for placement. The school district shall ensure that a continuum of alternate educational placements is available to meet the needs of 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. Placement decisions will not be made based upon those programs the local education agency has presently available, but will be based upon a child's IEP and least restrictive environment mandates as prescribed in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act. 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, 1998, the State Board of Education shall appoint an advisory committee which shall be composed of no more than twelve (12) persons nominated by the State Superintendent of Education from within or outside the state, including, but not limited to, representatives of the following groups:
(a) The Mississippi School for the Deaf;
(b) The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities;
(c) The Mississippi Council of the Deaf;
(d) Two (2) parents or guardians of deaf students, one (1) with an oral communication background and one (1) with a manual communication background;
(e) The Council of Organizations Serving Deaf Mississippians;
(f) Specialists in education for deaf education;
(g) State Department of Rehabilitation Services, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation;
(h) The Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association; and
(i) The Mississippi Department of Health.
(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 computer software for the deaf;
(b) Recommend an early intervention program for assessment and services to children at age two (2) years;
(c) Recommend transportation alternatives of deaf and hard-of-hearing students;
(d) Recommend strategies for appropriate grouping of students at a central location without regard for district boundaries;
(e) Study costs to the service district for hearing-impaired children by district of origin and recommend necessary funding levels;
(f) Recommend procedures to expand teacher base for hearing impaired with programs for undergraduate students of education or methods of curriculum exchange such as sign language substitution for foreign language;
(g) Recommend current technology available for implementation in educating the hearing impaired;
(h) Recommend a plan to increase graduation of hearing-impaired students with a diploma to fifty percent (50%) of graduates in five (5) years, or by the year 2004.
(4) The committee shall report the committee's findings and a summary of its activities to the State Board of Education and to the Legislature by December 15 of each year until the year 2000, at which time the reporting requirement shall be repealed.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.