Education Programs for Individuals with Disabilities (HB 837)

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The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators March 26, 20016

Education Programs for Individuals with Disabilities (HB 837)

Became law 3-25-16

This bill expands the services and programs for students with disabilities in private schools and for home education students.

The new law expands the John M. McKay Scholarship Program.

  • It allows private schools to establish a transition-to-work program consisting of academic instruction, work skills training, and a volunteer or paid work experience for John M. McKay Scholarship Program students.
  • It allows private school to receive funding for McKay Scholarship students who participate in the Transition-to-Work Program until the student reaches 22 years of age if the student has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of completion.

The new law may provide special education services to home education students.

  • Diagnostic and resource centers will now be required to provide testing and evaluation services to home education program students with suspected disabilities, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.03.
  • School districts may now provide exceptional student education-related services, such as speech and language, to home education students with disabilities.  Some districts have been led to believe that providing those services are illegal under federal law.  This new law now clarifies that, under state law, districts can provide those services and instructs districts how to report the student for funding.
  • The home education student would have to enroll in a public school class to receive the services, but would not lose his status as a home education student. Enrollment of the student on a part-time basis would allow the district to draw down state funding for those services.
  • This law does not mandate services for a home education student who qualifies for the services, but the school districts can no longer claim that it is illegal for them to provide these services to a home education student.

The new law also makes some changes to the dual enrollment law.

  • Dual enrollment for students with unique abilities is addressed in the new law.  It requires state colleges to include, in the articulation agreement, services and resources available to students with disabilities and requires the college to report those services and resources to the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities.
  • State colleges are now required to establish an articulation agreement with each eligible private school in its geographical service area and to submit that articulation agreement to the Department of Education by August 1 of each year.  Previously, state colleges were either refusing to establish an articulation agreement with a private school or the college was sending the private school an invoice at the end of each semester for the student’s tuition.
  • This new law does not fix the problem for private schools, but it does require that each articulation agreement states upfront whether the private school will pay the standard tuition for courses taken by private school students or not. It will document what is happening statewide in dual enrollment for private school students.  Accurate data is needed to revisit this issue next Session.

The Home Education Foundation is supported solely by contributions of Florida home educators.

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