Several bills have been introduced that seek to address localities’ interest in flexibility in serving children with high-level needs within local school divisions. HB 176 (Bell, Richard P.) and SB 975 (Vogel) require the Department of Education to implement a pilot program in two school divisions to determine what resources would be needed to transition students currently being served in private placements back to the public school setting.
HB 176 was tabled in a subcommittee of House Appropriations, as was HB 1346 (Thomas), a bill that would have allowed CSA funds to be used to support students transitioning away from private placements into a public school special education program operating in Stafford County; however, the subcommittee indicated during the discussion of HB 176 that the topic may be addressed in budget deliberations.
In the Senate, the fate of SB 975 is unclear; it was originally assigned to the Senate Rules Committee, but then re-referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee, which, as of the time of this writing, is not scheduled to meet again prior to “crossover.” SB 205 (Stuart), the companion to HB 1346, passed the Senate on February 9 and awaits action in the House.
VACo supports these bills as a step toward determining how the state can work with localities to support children in local school divisions, while recognizing that private placements may be the most appropriate option for some children.
Budget language directing a study of the issue of management of the quality and costs of private day placements funded through CSA was included in the budget by the 2017 General Assembly; the biennium budget continues this study. HJ 29 (Bell, Richard P.) would direct a broad JLARC study of the CSA program; the House Rules Committee referred all proposed JLARC studies to JLARC for consideration by its Studies Subcommittee, which has been working to establish a queue of studies to be undertaken as JLARC staff complete previously-assigned work.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle