Janette, is wearing a dark burgundy turtleneck. She has glasses and has her hair braided down to her side. She has a watch and earrings on. Her background is a white wall.
Kavita, a native Indian lady, is wearing light gray blouse with black jacket. She has eyeglasses and her hair gel pulled back, and is wearing brown stoned earrings and necklace in the green solid draped background.
Senate Bill 692’s goal is to prioritize students in the LRE, Least Restrictive Environment, which means students ages 6-21, with an IEP, Individual education plan, will be removed from their current program and placed into regular mainstream classes with 80% or more time of each school day.
Historically, in all the years of the LRE concept has taken Deaf and Hard of Hearing students from Sign language rich supported programs into regular mainstream classes, that deprived Deaf students from their previous visual language environment.
LRE implies to be inclusive, but it is not the case for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.
This bill is sponsored, supported and promoted by a group of SELPAs, which means Special Education Local Plan Administrators. This group has already informed programs and institutions serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing students that SB 692 will pass. Stop! We cannot allow this to happen.
There are 3 major items to consider.
First, the bill talks about Inclusion, which sounds wonderful and great, but wait, what it actually does is the opposite of that. A least restrictive environment is when you have a teacher who signs, or a Deaf teacher, who are credentialed, and other services that provides support and accommodates the Deaf child’s needs, which is communicating in a sign language rich classroom. The LRE bill will take that child out of that environment.
Secondly, SB 692, creates misinformation, and to whom? To our State Legislators, serving on the Special Education Committee, Specifically, by stating special education law indicator 5A as a priority at the federal level. 5A is not intended as a benchmark goal. The intention of 5A only collects data not a federal required priority. Again, 5A is just only to collect data. And that is misleading.
The 3rd item, is about Students rights. Deaf and Hard of Hearing student’s rights. This LRE priority will dismiss the Deaf student’s rights, rights to choose sign language, a school of their choice, to communicate in sign and other needs. This bill will dismiss what is already in the law to preserve this right. This is bad.
Yes, that is bad. Now, for you, as the community, what can you do, to get involved to show your support and to make testimony? You can email your testimonies to the group of Senators on the Education committee. This legislative committee will meet this Wednesday, March 17th at 9am, to discuss this bill. It is important that this committee hear from you. You can do this by submitting your SB 692 opposition letters by email to the individual listed Senators. If you feel you are unsure about how to start a letter, what to write or the testimonies to make, do not worry, we already have a sample letter for you to use. You can modify the sample letter to fit your thoughts and testimony. Please reach out and contact the 7 Senators on this committee to be heard by you.
Kavita/Janette: Oppose SB 692!