Delaware’s Department of Education will hold two public meetings this week to discuss changes in rules that extend public education to students with disabilities until they turn 22 years old.
House Bill 454, which became law in July 2022, bumped the age up from 21 to 22 starting in August 2022.
The two hearings – required for all changes in special education regulations – are Tuesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Dover.
Both meetings will be held in the cabinet room on the second floor of the Townsend Building, and will be livestreamed here.
Adding a year to the current law means costs will rise 2% annually, the bill’s fiscal note states.
In Fiscal Year 2023, the state cost is $2,704,648 and the local share is $1,072,360. For 2024, the state share is $2,758,740 with the local share being $1,093,807. In 2025, the cost increases to $2,813,915 for the state and $1,115,683 locally.
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The Education Department defines students who are eligible to stay until they are 22 as those having mental, physical, emotional, developmental, speech or learning disability problems which require special education and related services.
The new law added a year to the time students may stay in the public education system.
After those students leave the education system, their families are responsible for finding alternate programs for them, and that can be difficult for adults with multiple disabilities.
There’s 53 students in Delaware public schools that are 21, according to Alison May, public information officer at the state Education Department.
In neighboring Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, free and public education is available for students with disabilities through the end of the school year in which they turn 21.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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