Miller, Kim to introduce bill extending eligibility for special ed programs during pandemic

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – State Reps. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, and Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, are planning to introduce legislation that would extend special education eligibility for students with an IEP in relation to transition programming after the age of 18.

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impacts on many students, but Miller said for many students who require Individualized Education Programs, the effects arguably have been even greater. There are approximately 1,300 students across Pennsylvania in their final year of eligibility for transition assistance. Without proper action, their eligibility would expire, and they would no longer be able to access these vital services.

“Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be unconscionable to allow these students to age out of this program without full access to its benefits,” said Miller. “That is why we are introducing this bill, which will allow many to have a little more time due to COVID interruption. It would also permit students who were forced out to re-engage if they so desired.”

Miller’s legislation would ensure no student enrolled in school with an active IEP when the governor first declared the COVID-19 state of emergency shall lose their eligibility for services until 12 months after the expiration of the emergency declaration. It would be up to the parents and students if they want to continue participating in the program after they turn 18.

“The students participating in this have significant needs and require special attention,” said Kim. “We should be giving them as much time and instruction as possible to help make sure their transition to adulthood and life after high school is successful, which is exactly what this bill would do.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the 2019-20 legislative session. Miller and Kim hope this bill will move through the legislature and get the governor’s signature as soon as possible.