|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, April 7, 1999|
|Contact:||Jan O'Keefe Feldman|
Public Comment Invited on Proposed Special Education Reforms
Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll announced today that public comment is invited on proposed special education reforms.
Three public hearings on proposed changes to the Board of Education regulations on special education will be held in April and May. They are: April 27th at Meline Kasparian Professional Development Center, 60 Alton Street in Springfield; April 28th, at the Quinsigamond School, on Millbury Street in Worcester; and May 13th, at West Roxbury High School, 1205 VFW Pkwy. in Boston. All hearing sites are handicapped-accessible.
Written comment is strongly encouraged, and remarks can be submitted through May 14th.
On March 30th, Commissioner Driscoll proposed changes to the state's 25-year-old Chapter 766 Regulations on Special Education, and the Board of Education voted unanimously to seek public comment on the proposed changes. They would delete redundant and outdated language, clarify definitions, require that the type of disability of the student is determined before eligibility decisions are made, provide greater flexibility and a wider range of special education options for school districts, and align special education with the priorities of Education Reform.
Commissioner Driscoll said, "The special education regulations have not undergone a major review since they were first written in 1973. We have updated most regulations on public education, in response to a 1996 Executive Order by the Governor, and it is time to review the regulations on special education.
"I want to assure parents that my proposed changes will not withdraw or withhold services from disabled students who need special education. What they will accomplish are two important goals: they will ease the burden from old-fashioned, bureaucratic, red- tape rules, while keeping appropriate services in place; and they will hold us all more accountable to Education Reform, which requires higher achievement for all students. In the future, the Legislature may act on changing Chapter 766, the state's special education statute, but we can begin now to improve special education by revising the Board's regulations."
The Board of Education is expected to take final action on the regulations at the June 29th meeting, after review of all public comment.
The current regulations and proposed changes are available on the Department of Education's Laws and Regulations website. For a copy of the regulations, call 781-388-3300, ext. 662. Written comment can be sent to "Special Education Review," Office of Special Services, the Massachusetts Department of Education, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148.