The group charged to take on the in-depth legislative study of special education in South Dakota has been appointed.
Fourteen members – five legislators and nine other individuals – will serve on the Special Education Interim Legislative Committee, which was created by the passage of Senate Bill 3 during this year’s legislative session.
The 14-member interim study committee will review:
- To examine the diagnostic tools and assessments used to identify students in South Dakota schools in need of special education or special education and related services;
- To examine the disability categories that are rising at the greatest rate and review eligibility requirements;
- To review the funding levels of the disability categories;
- To examine the common costs associated with extraordinary cost fund applications, including out-of-district placements; and
- To develop recommendations to address the increasing costs of services.
Rep. Nancy Rasmussen will chair the interim committee with Sen. Jim Bolin serving as vice chair. Rep. Rasmussen served on the House Education committee this session, along with Rep. Fred Deutsch and Rep. Ray Ring, who will also sit on Special Education Interim Legislative Committee. Rep. Sue Peterson will also be a member of the interim committee.
Sen. Jim Bolin has served the past three sessions on the Senate Education committee, including two has chair of the committee, and was vice chair of last year’s interim committee charged with studying the state’s Extraordinary Cost Fund, which served as the impetus for the establishment of this year’s study.
At last month’s Legislative Executive Board meeting, Sen. Bolin said the latest interim study provides a “provider score” and “broader group” to examine the issues facing special education and he hoped for the study to get a sense of “the distinct problems that rural (districts) have.”
The “broader group” joining the appointed legislators on the study includes:
- Parent (Yankton School Board Member) Sarah Carda;
- Harrisburg Superintendent Jennifer Conway;
- Avon Superintendent Tom Culver;
- Jones County Superintendent Lorrie Esmay;
- Sisseton Special Education Director Dr. Michelle Greseth;
- Disability Rights South Dakota Advocate John Hamilton;
- Timber Lake Superintendent Dan Martin;
- USD Faculty Member Dr. Kari Oyen;
- Mitchell School Board Vice President Neil Putnam.
Interim committee members are set to convene this summer – no date for the first meeting has been set – and will report their findings to Gov. Kristi Noem and the legislature prior to the 2020 legislative session.
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