News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Statement from Senator Judith Zaffirini Regarding the Implementation of Scooter's Bill

Austin, TX -- Senate Bill 673, or "Scooter's Bill," greatly benefits Texas families and our public education system. Effective immediately, it allows students with disabilities who are in individualized education programs (IEP) and who have completed four years of high school to participate in graduation ceremonies and receive attendance certificates.

Students addressed in Scooter's Bill are different from others who are not allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies because their IEP neither requires them to complete their course requirements in four years nor to pass the TAKS.

Because their IEP is designed to last longer than four years, these students previously could not celebrate graduation with their peers after their fourth year of high school and had to wait until they were 21 years old to celebrate their graduation. SB 673 corrects that problem and recognizes that many IEP students do not stay on the main high school campus for the last years of their program and should be allowed to celebrate their accomplishments at their high school campus before they depart.

There are many inconsistencies in graduation policies throughout the state. Before Scooter's Bill was enacted, for example, Austin ISD, Plano ISD, and Ft. Worth ISD already allowed students in IEP programs to "walk" at graduation after four years. Scooter's law creates a consistent policy throughout Texas so students in IEPs may celebrate their accomplishments with their peers before they or their peers leave campus.

I was delighted that the bill was passed with urgency so that IEP students who are in their fourth year of high school could take advantage of Scooter's law this month.

The new law will provide students in IEP programs the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies with their peers and obtain a sense of closure as their classmates move on from high school. It also will allow students to continue their IEP programs afterward.

Scooter Long's story sent a clear message that students in IEPs needed the assistance of Scooter's Law so they never again would be denied access to or participation in this important milestone in a student's scholastic career. Other groups of students may seek similar consistent policies that would allow them similar privileges. Their needs and interests are important but different from those of IEP students and should not diminish the importance and appropriateness of SB 673.

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