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Bipartisan proposal would keep parents of students with disabilities informed

  Rep. Allison Tant
Republican state Sen. Corey Simon and Democrat Rep. Allison Tant, both of Tallahassee.

Republican state Sen. Corey Simon and Democrat Rep. Allison Tant, both of Tallahassee filed identical bills to allow parents to stay involved in their child’s IEP until age 22.

Two Tallahassee state lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are sponsoring legislation to allow parents of students with disabilities to stay informed about their child's education until they graduate.

Democratic Rep. Allison Tant and Republican Sen. Corey Simon, both of Tallahassee, have filed identical bills (HB 19 and SB 636) to allow parents to stay involved in their child’s individual education plan (IEP) until age 22.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee will take up the measure on Tuesday. It received unanimous support last month in the House Education Quality Subcommittee.

Tant has experience with the issue firsthand; her son Jeremy has a cognitive disability called Williams syndrome. She explains that students with an IEP may graduate between ages 18 to 22, but parents are only kept informed about that plan until their child reaches age 18.

"At that point, a parent can no longer be involved in IEP meetings or signing permission slips knowing where their student is off-campus for a work-based learning experience," Tant says.

The measure would allow parents to sign an informed consent form from the school district allowing them to remain involved in their child's education, "with the student at the table," Tant said.

The bipartisan proposal passed in the House last year, but didn’t clear the Senate.

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Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.