The MLO Minute: By Nancy Potter, Esq. and Kimberly Caputo, Esq. —
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Senate approved legislation that would offer parents the option to allow their children to repeat a grade level due to the learning disruptions created by COVID-19. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) authored the bill.
Senate Bill 664 would give parents the power to make the decision on whether their child should advance to the next grade level.
The bill would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to address learning gaps related to the pandemic. An amendment developed in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Education ensures parents would have until July 15 to decide on whether their children should advance or be held back.
Senate Bill 664 would also allow parents the option to extend enrollment in special education programs for an extra year due to COVID-19. This provision would prevent students with special needs from aging out of the system at age 21 after missing out on much of the education they are legally entitled to. In addition, the bill would apply to parents and children who attend schools responsible for the education of deaf and blind students.
Recently, the bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, where it passed out of the House Education Committee. It is expected to come to a vote of the full House the week of June 7.
IF THE GOVERNOR SIGNS THE BILL PARENTS MAY NEED TO ACT QUICKLY
Your child has an IEP, H/S struggled this year and you feel there are gaps in knowledge and skills
- OPTION: Alert the teacher/principal to your concerns in an email and request a meeting to discuss “ possible retention given the pending legislation and the 7/15 deadline”
Your child has an IEP, is 18 and the plan was to “graduate” in June 2021 but you feel there were struggles this year and H/S is not “ready” for the next step
- OPTION: Alert the special education case manager/principal to your concerns in an email and request a meeting to discuss “revisiting graduation for a later date given the pending legislation and the 7/15 deadline” . Remember, your child can still participate in graduation activities BUT you must DECLINE the DIPLOMA.
Your child has an IEP and is 21. This school year has been challenging and support is still needed in academics, behavior, community-based learning.
- OPTION: Alert the special education case manager/principal to your concerns in an email and request a meeting to discuss “remaining in school beyond age 21 given the pending legislation and the 7/15 deadline”.
We are planning to update this information as the legislation moves through the Harrisburg system so please stay tuned. We also appreciate this is a very busy time and these decisions are big. Please know you are not alone we are here to help.