Friday, April 5, 2013

Bill supporting Schools for the Blind and Deaf heads to Governor

OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- Having received unanimous approval from both the Senate and House, Senate Bill 251 is on its way to the Governor’s desk. The measure, authored by Sen. Earl Garrison and Rep. Arthur Hulbert, will give the Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf more leniency in making decisions for their students. 

“As the House author of Senate Bill 251, I’m very pleased with the bipartisan passage of this bill with a vote of 90-0 today in the House of Representatives. This is an example of common-sense legislation that will help save time and money, and that will gain efficiency for the School for the Blind, School for the Deaf, and their local school districts,” said Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson. “It has been a pleasure to work closely with Senator Garrison on this legislation for the betterment of these two schools along with our local public school districts.”

Under SB 251, the Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf will be considered local education agencies for the purposes of purchasing and administering tests required for high school graduation. The bill will allow the superintendents of the two schools to make decisions regarding reasonable testing accommodations for individual students’ disabilities. Garrison explained that, for example, if someone has an astigma, or jerky eye movement, and cannot track words on a page while reading a selection on a test, this bill will allow the superintendent to provide that student with a straight edge ruler to track the words. Currently, any accommodations have to be approved by the State Board of Education.

“I want to thank Rep. Hulbert for carrying this bill in the House as well as my colleagues in the Senate and House for their support of this important measure,” said Garrison, D-Muskogee. “This was a bipartisan effort to help these schools be able to decide how best to address the unique testing needs of their students instead of having to wait for approval from the State Board of Education.”

The measure has an emergency clause so it will go into effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor. 

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