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Special Ed Bill Gets Broad Support

Connecticut legislators passed the Act Concerning Special Education last night, sending it to Gov. Jodi Rell for her signature. The legislation, known as HB 5425, requires school districts to employ qualified professionals to supervise applied behavior analysts who instruct children receiving special education. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal first introduced similar legislation last session and advocated on behalf of this bill.

Legislators pushed for the bill in the wake of Norwalk Public School District’s experience with Stacy Lore, the woman who provided autism services for children despite having no valid credentials. “That case provided a real world example of why we needed to change,” said Sen. Bob Duff (D-25), one of the original sponsors of the bill.

The bill will allow most school districts to continue using their current staff, said Suzanne Letso, CEO of the Connecticut Center for Child Development and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts. Letso said the bill was drafted in a manner that was supportive of school districts and will not cause a shortage of available professionals. The state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis deemed the legislation to have “minimal” financial impact upon the state or individual districts.

“This was a true grass roots effort,” said Letso. “Many people across the state collaborated in this effort but none of this would have happened without Richard Blumenthal.” Attorney General Blumenthal introduced legislation to set minimum credentials for autism service providers following the Lore situation. Legislators, parents and professionals, Letso said, worked in support of the bill.

“This is a huge step in the right direction,” said Kimberly Graham, the mother of one of the children affected by the Norwalk case. “It will guarantee our children a proper education.”

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