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Governor Scott Signs Student-Centered Bills

By: Lanetra Bennett; Press Releases Email
By: Lanetra Bennett; Press Releases Email

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 2, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Parents are praising legislation that they say allows them to be involved in life-changing decisions affecting the education of their son or daughter with a disability.

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 1108 -- Exceptional Student Education.

Advocates say the law allows private therapists to observe and provide therapy in the classroom; and requires teachers to take one class every five years in the area of teaching students with disabilities

Tallahassee resident Patricia Levesque has a son with autism. She says, "It empowers me to have a greater say in my child's individual education plan. it allows my own therapist to have a really great working relationship with the teacher and the principal. So now, all of the people involved in my son's education and therapy are allowed to work together. i think that's one of the best things in the bill."

Governor Scott recently signed a bill expanding high-quality charter school options in Florida.

Below are press releases from the Foundation of Florida's Future on both bills

Governor Scott Signs Student-centered Bills
Bills Empowering Parents and Expanding Online Course Options Become Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 1108, Exceptional Student Education. This bill ensures parents are able to be involved in life-changing decisions affecting the education of their son or daughter with a disability. On track to becoming a national model for increasing parental rights and awareness in the educational decisions of children with disabilities, this new law ensures all available resources are utilized to provide the best educational experience for every student. Both the Florida House and Senate unanimously voted in favor of this landmark bill.

“This commitment to moms, dads and their children will help inform, engage and empower families in the life-altering decisions that comprise a child’s Individual Educational Plan,” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. “This law will be transformative for countless students in our state, and I’m excited to see Florida take a giant step closer to meeting the unique learning needs of each child.”

Effective July 1, 2013, this new bill:

Requires that parents must give permission through their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) as to whether their child will:
pursue a standard high school diploma or a special high school diploma;
have the same standards for instruction as other students;
attend a traditional neighborhood school or a center school for students with disabilities.
Ensures parents are not discouraged from bringing an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) expert, disability advocate or anyone else of their choosing to their child’s IEP meeting.
Allows private therapists, with the collaboration of the teacher and principal, to observe and provide therapy in the classroom.
Requires all teachers to take one class every five years in the area of teaching students with disabilities.
Provides the state’s Commissioner of Education with the authority to grant extraordinary exemptions from the statewide assessments for certain students with disabilities if the students’ disabilities prevent the assessment from having any educational value.
“As parents, our engagement in developing our son or daughter’s IEP is critical,” said Patricia Taime, the mother of a special needs student from Weston, Fla. who raised awareness and support for the legislation and spoke in committee on behalf of the bill. “Professional recommendations can never replace the love and understanding that a child’s parents bring to the discussion. In addition to the professionals’ knowledge and recommendations, our children rely on our voices, decisions and diligence to guarantee they’re getting the education that will prepare them to reach their greatest potential – whatever that may be.”

On Thursday, Governor Scott signed House Bill 7029, sponsored by Representative Manny Diaz, which includes provisions that will expand Florida students’ access to online courses, including those across district lines.

“This bill further harnesses the power of technology to customize education for every student,” added Levesque. "It will expand access to existing online courses for students, teachers and schools; we’re thankful to Governor Scott for making this law a reality."

To learn more about these and other student-centered bills that passed during the 2013 Legislative Session, along with how lawmakers were graded on Florida’s Education Report Card, visit www.afloridapromise.org.

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Governor Scott Signs Bill Enhancing
Equality and Equity in School Choice
House Bill 7009 Signed into Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Scott recently signed a bill expanding high-quality charter school options in Florida. House Bill 7009 increases transparency and accountability within the charter community, while still providing flexibility, especially for high-performing charter schools.

“Expanding high-quality public school options is a good thing for all Florida students,” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. “Charter schools, which are public schools, continue to prove they are an effective, successful option for many Florida families, and this law will help crack down on those few rogue charter school operators that give others a bad name.”

An important policy of the Parent Empowerment Act was also amended onto HB 7009. It guarantees a student will be assigned to an effective teacher at least every other year.

“Florida has some of the best teachers in the country, and we should be very proud of that,” added Levesque. “Their roles have lifelong impacts on children, and every child deserves to learn from an effective teacher.”

Legislation Highlights:

Requires all charter schools to maintain a website with their school’s academic performance.
Reduces waiting lists at high-performing charter schools by allowing them to increase student enrollment to capacity.
Increases accountability for charter schools in a multitude of ways, including: ensuring charter employees and their spouses may not serve as governing board members of the school, and that no school may pay out large sums of money to board members or employees upon termination or closing.
Enables Florida College System institutions to operate K-12 charters in certain circumstances.
Allows school districts to create an “Innovation School of Technology” (a school that incorporates one of three blended learning models to give students some control over the style, pace, time, and location of their learning) which may receive flexibility from certain state statutes while maintaining accountability through statewide measures
To learn more about these and other student-centered bills that passed during the 2013 Legislative Session, along with how lawmakers were graded on Florida’s Education Report Card, visit www.afloridapromise.org.

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