Senate leaders order $6 million to help special education students: ‘Time to get this done’

WILL SENTELL | Staff writer

n a sudden turn of events, two Senate leaders Wednesday told the state Department of Education to find $6 million to finance cameras for public school classrooms that house about 9,000 of Louisiana’s most severely affected special education students.

The events unfolded in the Senate Education Committee during a hearing on a bill that would require schools to have written policies governing the cameras by Dec. 31. The measure does not require that the cameras be installed but is aimed at making that happen when funds are available and if a request is filed by a parent or guardian.

The legislation applies to self-contained classrooms, which mean those strictly limited to special education students and generally children with the most challenging disabilities, including the inability to speak. Backers contend that because the children face a variety of handicaps, they cannot pursue complaints and cameras would help.

Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, sponsor of Senate Bill 45, carried a similar measure last year. But Foil, some mothers and educators said schools have largely ignored the directive.

“We have waited long enough,” said Jodi Rollins, of Prairieville, who is the mother of a 12-year-old and 13-year-old who are nonverbal and attend self-contained classes.

Rollins said the cameras would provide “peace of mind” for parents in case an incident arises.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bodi White, R-Central, who is also a member of the Education Committee, stopped just short of issuing his own mandate to get cameras in the classroom. White noted that public schools have landed about $3.5 billion in federal aid because of the … Continue Reading Full Story >>>

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