Annapolis, MD – On Thursday February 2nd Delegate David Vogt introduced House Bill 0705, Education – PARCC Testing – Children With Disabilities (Ben’s Rule). Ben’s Rule – HB705
This bill is authorizing a parent or guardian of a child with a disability who is nonverbal to refuse to allow the child to participate in a Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment or its equivalent in a public school; and requiring that the refusal be documented in the Individualized Education Program of the child.
This bill was developed as a direct response to the needs of Maryland citizens. When asked about why he introduced this bill, for now the third legislative session, Delegate Vogt paused momentarily. “Our job as public servants is to protect our citizens. As a father, there is no responsibility that I take more seriously than protecting my two sons, and as a result, I take very seriously the need to protect the youngest citizens in our community – especially those children that cannot always stand up for themselves.” Vogt explained.
Multiple years ago, Ben, a nonverbal child with disabilities and a student of Maryland schools, was administered and physically directed to complete a standardized test that he was neither capable of completing but had also been previously requested by his parents not to be conducted. Not only was Ben tested on guidelines which do not measure his capacities, but his parents were not informed until after the testing was completed, despite their prior objections. If Ben were audible and able to communicate on his own, he could have personally chosen not to complete this battery of tests. This legislation will fill the gap of protection that should have been in place to protect Ben’s and his parents’ rights pertaining to his education.
“As our education systems continue to evolve, it is up to policy makers to remember that we are here to protect. I am proud to have teamed up with over twenty bi-partisan co-sponsors as well as the necessary state agencies to present this bill in a manner and mechanism that will ensure the protection of students like Ben and parents that have the right to advocate on behalf of their special needs child(ren)” Vogt explains. Also of important note, the Attorney General’s office completed a legal review of this legislation and has certified that there is no risk of loss of any federal funding if the General Assembly passes this important piece of legislation.
This bill will be heard in front of the Ways and Means Committee on March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm. If you would like to submit letters in support and help protect our special needs students please email Delegate Vogt’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.