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Day 22: Special Ed Voucher, Student Mental Health, & IEP Interpreter Bills Pass House Ed, AED Legislation Moves to Senate

Education Committee Moves Several Education Bills Forward

The House Education Committee approved three bills. All move forward to the House Rules Committee for consideration by the full House.

 

HB 579 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming), regarding Georgia's special needs private school voucher. The newest version of the bill does not mandate expedited IEPs for students exiting public schools using the private school voucher, a provision in the former version of HB 579 to which former school leaders objected. The newest version also includes some needed academic accountability by requiring GaDOE to track some participating student data. Rep. Becky Evans (D-Decatur) offered an amendment adding student free and reduced-priced meal eligibility to the data reported on the program. Rep. David Wilkerson expressed concern that the metric may not provide relevant data during economic downturns. Barrett said this metric was included in previous reports on the Special Needs Scholarship. He said it is more for informational purposes, but acknowledged it is not the perfect metric. The amendment passed, and the amended bill passed unanimously. For more information on the progress of HB 529, click HERE and HERE.

 

HB 1104 by Rep. Omari Crawford (D-Decatur) requires schools to make mental health resources available to student-athletes. When presenting the bill, Crawford explained he intends that the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) will collect mental health information via required student forms that are already in use so that student-athletes can better access supports. The bill directs the GHSA to post mental health resources on its website. Robin Hines, executive director of GHSA, said the organization supports the bill and can offer resources at no cost.

 

HB 127 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) requires schools to improve IEP interpreter services by adhering to interpreter standards created by the State Board of Education (SBOE).

 

Bill Requiring AEDs in Public Schools Passes House

The House approved HB 874 by Rep. Lee Hawkins, which requires K-12 public schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) accessible during school hours and at any school-related function. HB 874 directs schools to develop a written emergency action plan with specific steps to take during a cardiac emergency. The bill also requires the creation of an AED internal response team at each school to maintain the AEDs and manage the emergency action plan. Finally, the bill requires two practice drills each school year. Hawkins said on the floor that the appropriations committee will provide funding for AEDs in the FY 2025 budget. For more on HB 874, click HERE.


Upcoming Schedule


Tuesday, Feb. 20, Legislative Day 23/PAGE Day on Capitol Hill


Wednesday, Feb. 21, Legislative Day 24


Thursday, Feb. 22, Legislative Day 25

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