Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities Senate Education will hear 8 bills on Special Education An upcoming hearing of the Senate Education Committee will provide advocates an opportunity to give input on proposed legislation. The Committee will discuss various items, including Senate Bill (SB) 183 , SB 1125 , SB 1301 , SB 1489 , SB 1490 , SB 1577 , SB 2083 , and SB 2204 . When: Tuesday, April 7, 2009, at 8:00 AM Where: The Committee will meet in Room E1.028 of the Texas State Capitol (extension). Background: The purpose of SB 183, by Sen. Williams, would create a school choice program for students enrolled in school district special education programs. The purpose of SB 1125, by Sen. Zaffirini, would require that transition planning for students with disabilities begin no later than age 14. SB 1125 also creates a Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System indicator to gage the success of students enrolled in special education programs receiving transition planning. This bill requires the creation of a comprehensive transition and employment manual to assist students transitioning to adult life in the community. HB 3614, by Rep. Rodriguez, is the companion bill which is currently pending in the House Public Education Committee. The purpose of SB 1301, by Sen. Shapiro, would create an autism services program. SB 1301 would allow for qualifying students with autism to be able to choose certain alternative educational programs. The purpose of SB 1489, by Sen. Watson, would require a school district to provide information to parents about optional dispute resolution methods when there is a disagreement between the district and a parent of a student with disability. The purpose of SB 1490, by Sen. Watson, would make significant changes to the special education due process system in Texas. The purpose of SB 1577, by Sen. Shapiro, would allow students with an autism spectrum disorder an excused absence to attend an appointment with a health care practitioner. The purpose of SB 2083, by Sen. Shapiro, would require TEA to develop an online survey regarding students in special education programs. The survey will address students who have graduated and students who have withdrawn from a district's special education program. The purpose of SB 2204, by Sen. Shapiro, would create an intervention and prevention program for students with autism or autism spectrum disorder who are at risk of being placed in out-of-school settings. SB 2204 would require training and support for educators who serve students with autism that transition back into the public school system. You can watch the Senate Education Committee hearing online at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php and check on the progress of the hearings at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.htm . You may also contact the Senate Education Committee Coordinator at (512) 463-0355. More Details on Attending Senate Hearings: Persons with disabilities who plan to attend this meeting and who may need assistance, such as a sign language interpreter, are requested to contact the Senate Committee Coordinator at (512) 463-0070 at least 72 hours prior to the meeting so appropriate arrangements can be made. The Texas Senate has an assistive listening system available to the public in the Senate Chamber and Senate Committee hearing rooms. Personal listening devices may be checked out in the Secretary of the Senate's office, Room 2E.22 of the Capitol Building. Those wishing to give public testimony need to limit prepared remarks to three minutes. If submitting written testimony, please submit 20 copies, with your name on each copy, to the Committee during the hearing. If you cannot travel to Austin to attend the hearing in person, you can still express your opinion by sending an email or fax to the members of the Senate Education Committee. To get the contact information for these members, go to http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.htm For more information on how to be an effective advocate, visit TCDD's Advocacy 101: Making Your Voice Heard.