Whereas individuals with disabilities aged 18-22 are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment;
Whereas, the least restrictive environment for most of those students is outside of the confines of a public high school building;
Whereas, individuals with disabilities aged 18-22 have few if any genuine peers that still attend public high school;
Whereas college is the natural place for students aged 18-22 to learn the transition skills necessary to be prepared for integrated competitive employment;
Whereas, individuals with intellectual disabilities who participated in post-secondary education were 26% more likely to leave vocational rehabilitation services with a paid job and earn a 73% higher weekly income;
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1: Chapter 71B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after Section 16 the following section: -
Section 17: Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment
(a) For the purpose of this section the term “Department” shall mean the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
(b) Subject to appropriation, the Department shall develop and administer a discretionary grant program to provide monies to school districts and state public institutions of higher education partnering together to offer inclusive concurrent enrollment programs options for school aged children with disabilities ages 18 to 22, inclusive; provided:
(1) that the grant program shall be limited to said students who are considered to have severe disabilities; and
(2) in the case of students aged 18-19, shall be further limited to students with severe disabilities who have been unable to achieve the competency determination necessary to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam.
(b) The goal of the grant program shall be for partnerships to provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment that meets the transition needs of students with severe disabilities by developing the capacity of school districts working in partnership with institutes of higher education to support academic success, participation in student life of the college community, competitive employment, and provision of a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. This shall be achieved by fully including students in higher education institutions by requiring the following:
(1) enrollment in credit-bearing and non-credit courses that include students without disabilities including enrollment in credit-bearing courses in audit status for students who may not meet course pre-requisites;
(2) participation in on-campus student life activities for the college community;
(3) adequate preparation for competitive employment;
(4) waiver of tuition for all courses by the institution of higher education;
(5) provision of supports and services necessary to facilitate a student’s enrollment and support inclusion in academic courses, extracurricular activities, internships, work experiences, and other aspects of the institution of higher education’s regular postsecondary program;
(6) training and technical assistance for teachers, faculty and personnel regarding strategy and teaching methodology to achieve successful inclusion of individuals with severe disabilities;
(7) Students with intellectual disabilities shall be socially and academically integrated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent possible;
(8) formation of a partnership with any relevant agency serving students with intellectual disabilities, including but not limited to a vocational rehabilitation agency;
(9) utilization of person-centered planning in the development of the course of study for each participating student ;
(10) Involvement of students attending the institutes of higher education who are studying special education, general education, vocational rehabilitation, assistive technology , psychology, or related fields;
(c) The department, in consultation with the department of higher education and the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board, shall develop guidelines and regulations to ensure that the grant program meets this goal.
(d) The executive office of education shall designate an Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment coordinator to manage grant administration and coordinate reporting . The executive office of education shall notify all participating school districts and institutions of higher education of the name and contact information for the inclusive concurrent enrollment coordinator.
(c) The Department shall establish an Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board to evaluate and to advise the Department on efforts to implement inclusive concurrent enrolment and to participate in educational outreach efforts on inclusive concurrent enrollment. The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board shall include representatives of school districts and colleges and universities where the inclusive concurrent enrollment program has been successfully implemented, 2 former or current students that have participated in an Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program, the Co-Chair of the Committee on Education or their designees, the Co-Chairs of the Committee on Higher Education or their designees, the Commissioner of Higher Education or their designee, the Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education of their designee, the Secretary of Education or their designee, the Commissioner of the Department of Development Disability Services or their designee, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission or their designee, a representative of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, a representative of the Federation for Students with Special Needs, a representative of the Institute for Community Inclusion, and the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment coordinator. The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board shall meet not less than 6 times per year.
(e) The inclusive concurrent enrollment coordinator, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education, the department of higher education and the inclusive concurrent enrollment advisory board, shall develop strategies and procedures designed to assist institutions of higher education in sustaining, expanding and replicating inclusive concurrent enrollment partnerships established through the department’s discretionary grant program. Strategies and procedures shall address each the following objectives:
(1) provision of continued grant funding for partnerships between institutions of higher education and school districts that have developed inclusive concurrent enrollment programs in order to sustain the existing programs and to retain employment specialists to assist students in meeting competitive employment and other transition-related goals;
(2) adoption of procedures and funding mechanisms to ensure that new partnerships providing inclusive concurrent enrollment programs fully utilize the models and expertise developed in existing partnerships to ensure that all programs are successful and sustainable;
(3) development of a mechanism to encourage existing and new partnerships to expand capacity to respond to individual parents that request an opportunity for their children to participate in the inclusive concurrent enrollment initiative;
(4) outreach to IHEs that are not currently participating in ICE with intent to encourage such IHEs to offer ICE programming;
(5) description of challenges frequently faced by new ICE programs and a compilation of best practices and strategies to address such difficulties; and
(6) description of challenges frequently faced by institutions of higher education that are interested in entering a partnership and a compilation of best practices and strategies to address such difficulties; and
(7) for those institutions that offer residential life for students, the integration of students with intellectual disabilities into the housing offered to nondisabled students with the accommodations, supports, and services necessary to enable inclusive dormitory living.
(f) The department shall distribute strategies and procedures developed by subsection (e) to all public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth annually.
(g) The department shall select grant recipients no later than July 15 of each year.
(h) The department, in consultation with the department of higher education, shall report to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means, the Joint Committee on Education and the Joint Committee on Higher Education on the status of the grant program annually, no later than March 15. The report shall include, but not be limited to the following components:
(1) enrollment data that details the number of students enrolled in ICE each semester and the unduplicated count of total students served at each institution do you mean in a year?;
(2) a list of all full-time and part-time employment positions dedicated to serving inclusive concurrent enrollment students and the average salary for those positions including but not limited to:
(i) educational coaches;
(ii) educational specialists;
(iii) job coaches and vocational specialists;
(iv) program specialists;
(v) program director;
(vi) peer mentors, note-takers, and tutors;
(vii) contracted employees;
(viii) parent and school district liaisons.
(3) a list of all courses taken by all ICE students during the academic year with indication as to whether the student attempted the course for credit or for audit and whether the student passed or completed the course
(4) a summary of unique and creative ideas implemented at each IHE that help foster their relationships with school districts or help students succeed
(5) employment data obtained to the best of the ability of the school district and the institute of higher education.
(6) a report detailing the amount of grant funds allocated to each institution of higher education in the planning and implementation phases, the amount allocated to the department of higher education, and the amount allocated to the Department itself.
SECTION 2. The Department shall promulgate guidelines and regulations required pursuant to section 17 of chapter 71B of the General Laws on or before January 1, 2014.
SECTION 3. Section 2 of Chapter 71B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting the following phrase after the tenth item of the third paragraph
;(11) For older students ages 18-22, options including continuing education, enrollment in credit and noncredit courses that include students without disabilities in an Institute for Higher Education, development of independent living skills, development of skills necessary for seeking, obtaining, and maintaining jobs, development of skills to access community services, and development of skills for self-management of medical needs
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