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HOUSE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 3/18/2014

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 4015

 

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 

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In the Year Two Thousand Fourteen

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An Act expanding inclusive transition programs for students with severe disabilities.

 

              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)  Subject to appropriation, the executive office of education shall develop and administer a discretionary grant program to provide monies to school  committees and state public institutions of higher education partnering together to offer inclusive concurrent enrollment program 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 school committees to partner with institutions of higher education  to provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment that meets the transition needs of students with severe disabilities, and to support  academic  success, participation in student life of the college community, competitive employment. This shall be achieved by fully including students in higher education institutions by requiring the following:

              (1)              development of partnerships between institutions of higher education and school committees which also include any relevant agency serving students with intellectual disabilities, including but not limited to  a vocational rehabilitation agency;

              (2)              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;

              (3)              participation in on-campus student life activities;

              (4)              adequate preparation for competitive employment;

              (5)              waiver of tuition for all courses by the institution of higher education;

              (6)              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;

              (7)              training and technical assistance for teachers, faculty and personnel regarding  strategy and teaching methodology to achieve successful inclusion of individuals with severe intellectual disabilities;

              (8)              that students with severe intellectual disabilities  be socially and academically integrated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent possible; and institutions of higher education may choose to engage students pursuing study in the areas of special education, general education, vocational rehabilitation, assistive technology, psychology, or related fields; in the administration of the program.

              (c) The executive office of education, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education, the department of higher education and the inclusive concurrent enrollment advisory board, shall develop guidelines to ensure that the grant program meets this goal.

              (d) Subject to appropriation, 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 committees  and institutions of higher education of the name and contact information for the inclusive concurrent enrollment coordinator.

              (e) The executive office of education shall establish an inclusive concurrent enrollment advisory board to evaluate and to advise the executive office of education on efforts to implement inclusive concurrent enrollment 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-chairs of the joint committee on education or designees, the co-chairs of the joint committee on higher education or  designees, the commissioner of higher education or  designee, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education or designee, the secretary of education or  designee, the commissioner of the department of development disability services or  designee, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission or  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 quarterly.

              (f) 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 executive office of education’s  discretionary grant program. Strategies and procedures shall include but not be limited to: 

              (1)              provision of continued grant funding for partnerships between institutions of higher education and school committees  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 and school committees, who are not currently benefitting from those partnerships and who  request an opportunity for their children to participate in inclusive concurrent enrollment;

              (4)              outreach to institutions of higher education and school committees  that are not currently participating in inclusive concurrent enrollment  with intent to encourage such institutions of higher education and school committees  to offer inclusive concurrent enrollment  programming;

              (5)              addressing of challenges frequently faced by institutions of higher education and newly created inclusive concurrent enrollment programs and a compilation of best practices to address these difficulties

              (g) The executive office of education shall distribute strategies and procedures developed by subsection (f) to all public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth annually.

              (h) The executive office of education shall select grant recipients no later than July 15 of each year.

              (i) The executive office of education, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education and the department of higher education, shall make a report available online 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 inclusive concurrent enrollment each semester and the unduplicated count of total students served at each institution

              (2)  a list of all full-time and part-time employment positions  supported by the grant program that are dedicated to supporting students with severe disabilities through the inclusive concurrent enrollment program 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 committee  liaisons.

              (3)  a list of all courses taken by all  students participating in the inclusive concurrent enrollment program 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 institution of higher education that helped foster their relationships with school committees or helped students succeed

              (5) employment data for students and graduates, obtained to the best of the ability of the school committee and the institution 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 elementary and secondary education and the department of higher education, and the amount allocated to the executive office of education.

              SECTION 2. The executive office of education shall promulgate guidelines pursuant to section 17 of chapter 71B of the General Laws on or before January 1, 2015.

              SECTION 3. Section 2 of Chapter 71B  of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “department”, in line 50, the following words:-

              ; and (12) For older students ages 18-22, options including continuing education, enrollment in credit and noncredit courses that include students without disabilities in an institution of 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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