Newsline Volume 33, Number 3

Legislative Updates

Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012: An Act Relative to Students' access to Educational Services and Exclusion from School was passed by the Legislature and signed into Law by Governor Patrick. This new law ensures student access to educational services when a student is being excluded from school due to discipline reasons. Under the new rule, schools are responsible for ensuring that students who are excluded from school are able to continue to make academic progress during the period of exclusion. It further requires schools to create a "school-wide education service plan" to ensure that students who are excluded for more than 10 consecutive days have access to some form of alternative educational services. Such services may include tutoring, alternative placement, Saturday school, and online or distance learning. Any school that excludes a student for more than 10 days must provide the student and his parent or guardian with a list of available alternative educational services. The bill shall take effect on July 1, 2014 - allowing school districts 2 years to plan for implementation.

Chapter 233 of the Acts of 2012: The Children's Hearing Aid bill, also was signed into law at the end of the session in December 2012. This law applies to any minor child age twenty-one or younger covered under the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), accident and sickness insurance policies, HMO and others to mandate coverage for the purchase of one hearing aid per hearing impaired ear every 36 months with a written statement of medical necessity. More information can be obtained from the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

New DDS Eligibility Statute: On January 8, 2013, Governor Patrick signed H 4252, An Act Providing for a Definition Consistent with the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). This new law provides a separate statutory basis for Massachusetts adopting the AAIDD standard. This legislation is important for a few reasons. First, it will prevent the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Disability Services (DDS) eligibility standard in the regulations from being narrowed, as happened once before in the 1990s. Second, it may also mean that if a family member or consumer appeals a decision of ineligibility, a hearing officer will be looking at the AAIDD standard in determining if DDS complied with the AAIDD definition of "intellectual disability". Third, the statute refers to the most recent version of the AAIDD standard, so if this is ever amended in the future, the state regulations will also need to be updated.