Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2009
Contact: Dave Nelson (512) 463-0112

STATE SCHOOL REFORM BILL PASSES TEXAS SENATE

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate passed its first piece of legislation today – SB 643 by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, strengthening oversight of Texas' state schools for the developmentally disabled. The bill, which Governor Perry has granted emergency status, now moves to the House.

"We cannot tolerate the abuse or neglect of citizens with these disabilities. This legislation is critically needed to ensure the safety of our state school residents. These are people with serious disabilities and they deserve our respect, our oversight and our compassion," Senator Nelson said.

Texas has been working to improve conditions in its state schools since 2005 when reports surfaced of widespread abuse, neglect and misconduct. A federal investigation is ongoing. The Senate Health & Human Services, chaired by Senator Nelson, led an interim review of the challenges.

SB 643 establishes an Office of Independent Ombudsman to audit state schools biannually and serve as a confidential intermediary for parents, clients and guardians. Additionally, this legislation:

Earlier this session, Senator Nelson filed SB 67, requiring that all direct care providers for the disabled, elderly and children submit to FBI fingerprint background checks. She also filed SB 70 transferring authority to investigate licensed Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded from DADS to the Department of Family & Protective Services. SB 72 by Senator Nelson requires health & human service agency employees to complete training in a timely fashion.

SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.

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