STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives has passed two bills sponsored by Rep. Terri Cortvriend related to education.
Today the House passed legislation (2023-H 6052A) she sponsored to appoint the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year for a year as a non-voting member of the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.
“Having the perspective of someone who is currently in the classroom, and who has proven themselves to be an outstanding educator would be very helpful to the council. That person knows what is working in schools and what isn’t, what the current challenges are in school, and what teachers, students and schools need for success,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown).
If the individual chose not to serve, the commissioner of education would appoint a former teacher of the year, provided that individual is still teaching in Rhode Island public schools.
The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) is sponsoring companion legislation (2023-S 0182).
Last week, the House passed another bill (2023-H 5668) sponsored by Representative Cortvriend to ensure that every public school district does its best to maintain an active special education local advisory committee, and to inform parents and guardians of its activities, how to contact it and how to get involved.
Every school district is required to have a special education local advisory committee, a group composed of parents, professionals and others with an interest in the education of students with disabilities. Local advisory committees advise the school district on matters concerning the unmet needs of students with disabilities, provide input on improvement and funding plans and serve as advocates for families with students with disabilities to ensure they get the services to which they are entitled.
Representative Cortvriend’s bill requires that districts post on their websites the link or contact information for their local advisory committee, as well as the dates of the committee’s meetings. It stipulates that the districts must maintain and promote committees that are active, meeting at least four times a year, and undertake efforts to make them active if they are not.
It also requires that parents and guardians receive notification of how to contact the committee, and its meeting schedule, at each individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan meeting.
“Local advisory committees can be a terrific resource for parents, helping them navigate the special education process and know their student’s rights. It’s important that they are active and accessible to the family of every single student involved in special education,” said Representative Cortvriend.
The bill has been forwarded to the Senate, where Senator DiMario is also sponsoring its companion (2023-S 0489).