Below is a list of maaps‘ Legislative Priorities for the 191st General Court’s legislative session.
This legislation would raise the cap on assumed special education enrollment under Chapter 70 for both in-district and out-of-district students from 3.75% to the lower of the state average or the district’s average from the previous year. This change would help close a $1 billion special education funding gap, but would not incentivize districts to place students in special education. The legislation contains an additional provision to offset an expected decrease to special education circuit breaker reimbursements as a result of this proposal by changing the circuit breaker formula from 75% of excess costs over four times the per pupil foundation budget amount (ppfb) to 80% of excess costs over three times said ppfb. It would also include transportation costs as reimbursable under circuit breaker.
This bill would help to address the workforce challenges facing maaps member schools and establish tuition pricing policies that will better enable C766 schools to hire and retain licensed teachers and other staff providing direct service to students.
The Operational Services Division (OSD) sets C766 school tuition rates and is required by law to determine an annual rate of inflation for use in the following fiscal year. However, OSD’s current inflation factor methodology does not reflect the costs of our member schools and OSD is free to elect not to add the inflation factor to tuition rates. This bill would specifically require OSD to establish tuition prices that would include an annual inflation adjustment based on the actual cost structure of our member schools. Recognizing that maaps member schools are leaders in national—and worldwide—special education, the legislation also requires OSD to issue out-of-state purchase rate letters upon request of a C766 school.
This legislation would strengthen the background check process to provide C766 schools and all schools with the ability to receive information from the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) about employees and/or prospective employees who have a substantiated abuse or neglect finding on a disabled adult. It would also include a new provision to similarly ensure that all schools are able to receive information from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) about employees and/or prospective employees who have been found to have had similar findings on children.
Specifically, the new bill’s provisions would require the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to enter into interagency service agreements with both DPPC and DCF to allow for the sharing of this information.
This legislation proposes to simply resolve an ambiguity in the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) statute that EEC is the licensing authority and is able to license group care facilities serving students with special needs between the ages of 18 and 22. This measure would go a long way in helping C766 schools meet the needs of young adults and prepare them for transition and successful lives after graduation.
The legislation will require the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), the Executive Office of Education (EOE), the Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) and Early Education and Care (EEC), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Departments of Children and Families (DCF), Youth Services (DYS), Developmental Services (DDS), Mental Health (DMH) and Public Health (DPH) to determine a process to make available to the public 1) the annual number of substantiated 51A and 19C (DPPC) abuse and neglect claims and reports per days of care for each child serving program and/or its employees, including separate reporting per days of care on the annual number of self-reports filed by a state funded, approved or licensed child serving program, as well as the number of such substantiated claims per days of care resulting in hospitalization, death and/or criminal charges of which the defendant(s) were found guilty; 2) the annual number of substantiated 51A and 19C (DPPC) abuse and neglect claims in the aggregate and per days of care for each licensed child serving program related to the use of restraints, as well as the number of self-reports per days of care filed by a state funded, approved or licensed child serving program. The legislation seeks to also include a provision to require that said 51A information be published for private schools approved under section one of chapter 76 of the General Laws.
The legislation calls for the Massachusetts School Building Authority to create a no-interest, or low-interest, loan program available to C766 schools.