2017 Regular Session
By: Representatives Barker, Roberson, Touchstone, Byrd
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-173-1, 37-173-3, 37-173-7 AND 37-173-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXPAND THE ELIGIBILITY FOR THE MISSISSIPPI DYSLEXIA THERAPY SCHOLARSHIP FOR STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA PROGRAM TO INCLUDE STUDENTS IN GRADE 1 THROUGH GRADE 12; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-173-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-173-1. As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Board" means the State Board of Education.
(b) "Department" means the State Department of Education.
(c) "Dyslexia" means a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin, characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities, which typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction, and secondary consequences which may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
(d) "Dyslexia therapy" means an appropriate specialized dyslexia instructional program that is delivered by a Mississippi Department of Education licensed dyslexia therapist which is scientific, research-based, Orton-Gillingham based, and is offered in a small group setting to teach students the components of reading instruction which include:
(i) Phonemic awareness to enable students to detect, segment, blend and manipulate sounds in spoken language;
(ii) Graphophonemic knowledge (phonics) for teaching the letter-sound plan of English;
(iii) The entire structure of the English language that encompasses morphology, semantics, syntax and pragmatics;
(iv) Linguistic instruction directed toward proficiency and fluency with the patterns of language so that words and sentences are carriers of meaning; and
(v) Strategies that students use for decoding, encoding, word recognition, fluency and comprehension.
These components shall be taught using instructional approaches that include explicit, direct instruction which is systematic, sequential and cumulative, following a logical plan of presenting the alphabetic principle commensurate with the students' needs, with no assumption of prior skills or language knowledge; individualized to meet the specific learning needs of each individual student in a small group setting; intensive, highly concentrated instruction that maximizes student engagement and uses specialized methods and materials; meaning-based instruction directed toward purposeful reading and writing, with an emphasis on comprehension and composition; and multisensory instruction that incorporates the simultaneous use of two (2) or more sensory pathways during teacher presentations and student practice.
(e) "Dyslexia therapist" means a professional who has completed training in a department approved Orton-Gillingham based dyslexia therapy training program attaining a AA license in dyslexia therapy or a professional participating in a state approved dyslexia therapy training program to attain a AA license in dyslexia therapy.
Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program" means a
scholarship to provide the option to attend a public school other than the one
to which assigned, or to provide a scholarship to a nonpublic school of choice,
for students in Grade 1 through Grade * * *
12 diagnosed with dyslexia in order to
receive comprehensive multisensory dyslexia therapy delivered by holders of an
appropriate license in dyslexia therapy issued by the department.
(g) "School" means any public or state accredited nonpublic special purpose school that provides a specific learning environment that provides comprehensive dyslexia therapy instruction delivered by dyslexia therapists licensed by the department providing highly qualified education and intervention services to children diagnosed with the primary learning disability of dyslexia.
SECTION 2. Section 37-173-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-173-3. The Mississippi
Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program is established
to provide the option to attend a public school other than the one to which
assigned, or to provide a scholarship to a nonpublic school of choice, for
students with a diagnosis of dyslexia. Students in Grades 1 through * * *
12 who have been properly screened and
diagnosed with dyslexia shall be eligible to receive scholarship assistance
under this program.
SECTION 3. Section 37-173-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-173-7. (1) A student is not eligible for a Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship while he or she is:
(a) Enrolled in a school operating for the purpose of providing educational services to youth in Department of Juvenile Justice commitment programs;
(b) Participating in a homeschool education program;
(c) Participating in a virtual school, correspondence school, or distance learning program that receives state funding under the student's participation unless the participation is limited to no more than two (2) courses per school year;
(d) Not having regular and direct contact with his or her private school teachers at the school's physical location.
(2) (a) For
purposes of continuity of educational choice, a Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy
Scholarship shall remain in force until the student returns to a public school
or completes Grade * * *
12, whichever occurs first.
(b) Upon reasonable notice to the department and the school district, the student's parent or legal guardian may remove the student from the nonpublic school and place the student in a public school in accordance with this section.
SECTION 4. Section 37-173-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-173-9. (1) (a) The
parent or legal guardian is not required to accept the offer of enrolling in
another public school in lieu of requesting a Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy
Scholarship to a nonpublic school. However, if the parent or legal guardian
chooses the public school option, the student may continue attending a public
school chosen by the parent or legal guardian until the student completes Grade * * *
(b) If the parent or legal guardian chooses a public school within the district, the school district shall provide transportation to the public school selected by the parent or legal guardian. However, if the parent or legal guardian chooses a public school in another district, the parent or legal guardian is responsible to provide transportation to the school of choice.
(2) Each local school district shall make an initial determination of whether a student diagnosed with dyslexia qualifies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to receive services and funding under the provisions of the IDEA before proceeding to the development of a 504 Plan for each dyslexic student eligible for educational services or equipment, or both, under Sections 37-23-1 through 37-23-157. If a student's diagnosis of dyslexia results in a determination that the disability is not a disability which would qualify the student as eligible under the IDEA, then in developing the written 504 Plan for each dyslexia student, there shall be a presumption that proficiency in spelling, reading and writing are essential for the student to achieve appropriate educational progress. Each local school district shall develop interventions and strategies to address the needs of those students diagnosed with dyslexia which provide the necessary accommodations to enable the student to achieve appropriate educational progress. The interventions and strategies developed shall include, but not be limited to, the use of the 3-Tier Instructional Model and the utilization of provisions of the IDEA and Section 504 to address those needs.
Furthermore, these provisions do not prohibit a parent or legal guardian of a student diagnosed with dyslexia, at any time, from choosing the option of a Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship which would allow the student to attend another public school or nonpublic special purpose school.
(3) If the parent or legal guardian chooses the nonpublic school option and the student is accepted by the nonpublic school pending the availability of a space for the student, the parent or legal guardian of the student must notify the department thirty (30) days before the first scholarship payment and before entering the nonpublic school in order to be eligible for the scholarship when a space becomes available for the student in the nonpublic school.
(4) The parent or legal guardian of a student may choose, as an alternative, to enroll the student in and transport the student to a public school in an adjacent school district which has available space and has a program with dyslexia services that provide daily dyslexia therapy sessions delivered by a department licensed dyslexia therapist, and that school district shall accept the student and report the student for purposes of the district's funding under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2017.