Indiana SB-500: Education Deregulation and Disabled Children (editorial)

Dear Editor,

This week in the Auburn, Indiana newspaper, The Star, Senator Dennis Kruse wrote an editorial about SB-500, which he claims will “remove many of the obsolete regulations on our public schools.” The text of the law summarizes itself as “Education deregulation.” He sugarcoated this bill by reporting on one apparently positive aspect. Unfortunately, this law’s sugarcoated prescription has many poisonous components. The parts that are most shocking to me is the elimination of educational protections for disabled children. A society can be judged on its treatment of its citizens who are weak and without a voice and this law is a full-faced assault on them.

The bill is impossible to fully understand without extensive research and study. Bills often have unintended side effects. This bill has 355 sections, which is a huge opportunity for unintended side effects, but back to the provisions for disabled children.

One section no longer requires schools to make accommodations for deaf and hearing-impaired students. In addition, advice of proper medical care to parents for their hearing-impaired children is no longer guaranteed.

Another provision guts the division of special education. That board will no longer supervise classes and programs for children with disabilities. Its purpose will become to “take action to ensure school corporations, charter schools, and the department remain eligible for federal special education funds.” This is not looking for the needs of disabled students. This is not helping disabled students achieve their greatest potential.

This is an example of a program that could go away: A younger relative of mine was having severe emotional problems in high school and could not regularly attend classes. The school provided tutors through this difficult time. Now, this relative has a college degree and is pursuing an advanced degree. The law limits the responsibility of a school to only disabled students who can come to school. The program that helped my relative would not exist if this bill were enacted. The statement “A school corporation may provide for instruction of any child with a disability who is not able to attend a special class or school for children with disabilities” would be slashed out of the Indiana code.

These callous and calculated assaults on disabled children are not reflective of the society I grew up in. A sugarcoated poison is still poison.

Lest we forget, Senator Kruse was also a co-author of the catastrophic RFRA law. I am confident that he has written another catastrophic law that trades a few dollars for our disabled children’s futures.

Sincerely,

William Smith

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