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6/26/2023 Rep. Cortvriend/Sen. DiMario bills to elevate teacher, parent voices in education signed by governor
STATE HOUSE – Governor Dan McKee has signed into law two bills, sponsored by Rep. Terri Cortvriend and Sen. Alana DiMario, to elevate the voices of parents and teachers in the state’s educational system.

One law (2023-S 0489, 2023-H 5668) establishes guidelines for each public school district’s special education local advisory committee. Under federal law, every school district is required to have a special education local advisory committee, a group composed of parents, professionals and others with an interest in the education of students with disabilities. The committees are intended to provide input on improvement and funding plans and serve as advocates for families with students with disabilities.

But the degree to which districts make opportunities for parents and members of the public to participate varies.

The law requires that districts post on their websites the link or contact information for their local advisory committee, as well as the dates of the committee’s meetings. It stipulates that the districts must maintain and promote committees that are active, meeting at least four times a year, and undertake efforts to make them active if they are not.

It also requires that parents and guardians receive notification of how to contact the committee, and its meeting schedule, at each individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan meeting.

“Local advisory committees can be a terrific resource for parents, helping them navigate the special education process and know their student’s rights. It’s important that they are active and accessible to the family of every single student involved in special education,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown).

The second law  (2023-S 0182A, 2023-H 6052A) appoints the Rhode Island teacher of the year as a nonvoting member of the Board of Education (BOE). That individual would serve a one-year term starting the year after their term as teacher of the year has expired. If they chose not to serve, the commissioner of education would appoint a former teacher of the year provided that individual is still teaching in Rhode Island public schools.

“The Board of Education makes vital decisions that impact every teacher and student in the state,” Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) said. “But no one on the BOE works in a classroom every day. By elevating the voice of an outstanding teacher, we’ll improve the decision-making process to better serve our students.”

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903