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Bills To Improve Special Ed Make Their Way Through Utah Senate

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Emily Anderson
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KUER
Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake) is the sponsor of three bills aimed to improved special education in the state.

Special education was the main topic of discussion on Utah’s Senate floor Wednesday. Three bills aimed to improve student services in the state are headed to a vote.

The bills’ sponsor, Democratic Senator Gene Davis, says it’s not easy unpacking special education law for his colleagues.

"I don’t think a lot of people understand," Davis says.

Davis also points to an example of misunderstanding at the federal level.

During Betsy Devos’ recent confirmation hearing for U.S. Education Secretary, Devos was asked about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.

“And she said we’ll leave it to the states and then she realized it was a federal law and it also came under the civil rights act," Davis says.

Better adherence to the law is the focus of the three bills Davis has introduced. One aims to speed up the process of testing a student once a parent has requested a special education evaluation.

Another seeks to smooth out transitions between public and private schools. Ensuring documents aren’t lost in the mix.

And lastly, reimbursement for additional services needed for students with Autism, who may require more assistance than they’re getting.

“What those reimbursement rates might be, we have no idea," Davis says.

Davis called this bill an "experiment" to determine how much funding is needed. Each bill has been received by the senate favorably and will move to a vote in the next few days. 

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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