LB 865 (1997) - Change Provisions Relating to Special Education


LB 865 was introduced in response to Laws 1995, LB 742, which codified the intent of the Legislature that, beginning in school year 1998-99, a new special education funding system would be implemented to replace the existing cost reimbursement funding provisions.


Recognizing that changing the entire funding system of special education would be a difficult task, the Legislature directed the Special Education Accountability Commission, in consultation with the School Finance Review Committee, the State Department of Education, and the Legislature's Education Committee to examine issues resulting from changing the funding system and to seek public input.  While these entities did indeed study the issues and propose alternative funding methods, as well as propose changes to the provision of special education generally, the Legislature enacted Laws 1996, LB 1114, and Laws 1996, LB 299, which respectively imposed property tax levy limits and local government spending limits on the state's political subdivisions, including school districts.


Therefore, LB 865 was introduced to extend the date by which a new special education funding system must be implemented from September 1, 1998, to September 1, 1999.


While the new funding system is on hold, LB 865 implements changes to the state's special education provisions that resulted from meetings and discussions conducted by the various special education entities since the enactment of LB 742.


LB 865 authorizes the awarding of grants from the Education Innovation Fund for programs for students with disabilities receiving special education under the Special Education Act and students needing support services.  Eligible programs must demonstrate improved outcomes for students through emphasis on prevention and collaborative planning.  The bill also provides that any grants received from the fund shall not be included when determining the actual special education receipts for purposes of calculating school district formula resources.


LB 865 directs the State Board of Education to develop guidelines to help school districts, educational service units, and approved cooperatives with the assessment, identification, and verification of the need for related services, such as transportation services, speech pathology, or physical or occupational therapy.


Additionally, support services are distinguished from special education services and are defined as "preventive services for students not identified or verified as having a disability pursuant to sections 79-1120 and 79-1138 but who demonstrate a need for specially designed assistance in order to benefit from the school's general education curriculum." Pursuant to the bill, the total allowable reimbursable cost for support services cannot exceed a percentage established by the State Board of Education of the school district's or approved cooperative's total allowable reimbursable cost for all special education programs and support services.  (The percentage cannot be more than 10 percent.) Originally proposed in LB, 797, these changes allow school districts to provide support services to students without requiring the students to undergo a special education verification process.


A Transition Commission is also created.  The commission will develop legislation and propose rule-and-regulation changes necessary to create a cooperative interagency service model for the provision of transitional and vocational services for individuals with disabilities ages 14 through 21 and older.  The intent of this legislation is to create a delivery system that will allow students to move from public school services to adult services without interruption or without the requirement to meet new eligibility guidelines, and the intent of the interagency plan is to eliminate any duplication of effort and to enhance fiscal and human resource efficiency.


Finally, LB 865 directs the State Department of Education to establish a registry for assistive technology devices to encourage and enable school districts, educational service units, and approved cooperatives to cooperate and share in the use of assistive technology devices.  The devices are used to improve or maintain the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.


LB 865 passed 48-0 and was approved by the Governor on June 10, 1997.