Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Allison Tant filed a bill Monday that would broaden the definition of an “exceptional student” to include more students with disabilities.
Under current law, students with disabilities who need tailored instructions and special services are considered “exceptional students.”
Tant’s proposal (HB 15) would revise the definition to include pupils with developmental delays through age 9 instead of 5.
“I have filed my first bill for the 2022 Legislative Session,” Tant tweeted Monday. “Educators, administrators, and parents have told me this bill is needed. This bill will make state standards consistent with federal law.”
Tant’s proposal marks the second-year lawmaker’s latest move to support students with disabilities and families.
In the Legislative Session prior, Tant successfully ushered several bills into law, two of which are the result of Tant’s experience with her son Jeremy and his disabilities.
One of the bills (HB 117) directs the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) to create a roadmap of state resources for families of people with disabilities and requires that roadmap to be given to every family with a disabled person, regardless of whether they’re eligible for services or not.
“The life of a parent with a baby with disabilities is a lot of stress, trauma and fear,” Tant told Florida Politics in May. “A mommy wants to be a mommy and take care of everything the baby needs, and when you can’t, it’s just hard.”
The other bill (HB 173) starts workforce planning for disabled people, sometimes called transition, as early as middle school — that process currently starts in high school — and requires schools to let parents know about transition opportunities.
If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.
The 2022 Legislative Session will start Jan. 11. The House and Senate will hold six weeks of pre-Session committee meetings beginning in September.