I am predicting now Kim Williams will have a HUGE year in 2018. Judging by a draft bill she sent into circulation for sponsors yesterday, she is already starting off 2018 on a high note for me!
As a member of the Special Education Strategic Plan committee, Williams has heard the special education concerns in Delaware. Unlike the other members of the committee, she is in a unique place to do something about it because of her other position as a state legislator. She gets to bring some of the plans to fruition!
This bill would change the very controversial graduation scenario for certain special education students. Instead of receiving a certificate, they would receive a special diploma. While this isn’t the same diploma their non-disabled peers would get, it is an actual diploma. The bill, also co-sponsored by State Senator Nicole Poore, would help special education students who received the certificate in a big way. With the current certificate, it is difficult for these students to obtain employment or further education since they didn’t have an actual diploma. This would change all that.
In the email sent yesterday from Rep. William’s aide:
Please see the attached legislation sponsored by Representative Williams and Senator Poore. Both Representative Williams and Senator Poore worked on this piece of legislation with DOE, DSEA, the Delaware Association of School Administrators, the State Board of Education, and a parent advocate. If you are interested in being listed as a co-sponsor, please let Jennifer Jankowski know at (302) 577-8412 or Jennifer.Jankowski@state.de.us by 12 PM on Friday, December 29th.
This Act replaces the term “Certificate of Performance” with “State of Delaware High School Diploma of Modified Performance Standards.” Doing so provides the opportunity for schools to award students who meet the requirements of their Individualized Education Plans (“IEP”) a high school diploma which recognizes the accomplishment of having attained a level of performance that is modified from the State graduation requirements but aligned with their established goals and performance outcomes. This high school diploma will be awarded on the same criteria for which some students with special needs are currently issued a Certificate of Performance. Issuing a Certificate of Performance instead of awarding a diploma has had a negative impact on students’ employment and education opportunities. Under this Act, a student who successfully completes the requirements of his or her IEP will receive a high school diploma, thereby having access to greater career and education opportunities.
This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
The other day, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Council announced the State of Delaware could be looking at a substantial surplus for FY2019. How much? $118.8 million according to Blue Delaware. For the past three years, Williams has been fighting for basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. It is something school districts and charter schools want as well since they have to eat those funds from their local share. This gross oversight which began with the unit-based funding system in 2010 needs to be rectified as soon as possible. There is no better time than now for our state legislators to make this a top priority in the FY2019 budget! Everyone will want a piece of the pie in the latter half of the 149th General Assembly but this one is at the very top of my wish list! This is assuming the numbers projected by DEFAC stay the same.
This is just one of the reasons why I like Kim Williams so much. She brings forth a ton of legislation that makes sense AND will have an immediate and positive impact for public education students. This is the kind of common sense legislation we need that builds up education, not tear it down.
To read the draft bill concerning special education diplomas, please see below!