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Tant, Simon sponsor a bipartisan bill for students with disabilities

Head shot of a woman with medium-length brown hair, wearing a pink shirt and black jacket
The endorsement of state Rep. Allison Tant on a campaign flyer turned out to be a misstep

Two Tallahassee state lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are sponsoring legislation to allow parents of students with disabilities to stay informed about their child's education until they graduate.

Democratic Rep. Allison Tant (District 9) and Republican Sen. Corey Simon (District 3) have filed identical bills — HB 19 and SB 636 — to allow parents to stay involved in their child’s individual education plan or IEP until they turn 22 years old.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee will take up the measure on Tuesday. It received unanimous support last month in the House Education Quality Subcommittee.

Tant has experience with the issue firsthand; her son Jeremy has a cognitive disability called Williams Syndrome. She explains that students with an IEP may graduate between the ages of 18 - 22, but parents are only kept informed about that plan until their child reaches the age of 18.

"At that point, a parent can no longer be involved in IEP meetings or signing permission slips knowing where their student is off-campus for a work-based learning experience."

The measure would allow parents to sign an informed consent form from the school district allowing them to remain involved in their child's education, "with the student at the table," Tant said.

The bipartisan proposal passed in the House last year, but didn’t clear the Senate.

Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.