News in Brief

June 06, 1990 1 min read

Despite strong opposition from some lawmakers, major changes in the way Pennsylvania educates students with disabilities have been cleared to take effect July 1.

The final hurdle to the implementation of the new rules written by the state board of education was crossed last month, when the House declined to follow the Senate’s lead and reject them.

Under Pennsylvania law, the state board’s rules can be blocked only if both chambers vote them down.

The rules require school districts to provide “instructional-support teams” for all elementary students who are having trouble learning. The aim of the teams will be to find ways to serve those children in the regular classroom, rather than in special-education resource rooms.

The regulations also establish guidelines for serving preschoolers with special needs, and require schools to help prepare handicapped students for the transition from school to the adult community.

Critics of the rules cited cost concerns. The proposals had twice been rejected by both education committees of the legislature and an independent regulatory-review panel. (See Education Week, April 4, 1990.)

Some House members said last week that they would try to modify parts of the rules through separate legislation.

The Illinois Senate has voted to repeal a law giving grandparents the right to seek visits with their grandchildren even if the parents object.

Most states allow grandparents to petition courts to maintain contact with their grandchildren when a parent divorces or dies.

The Illinois legislature went a step further last year, however, by enacting a bill granting grandparents visitation rights even when families remain intact.

Proponents of the law maintained it was needed to ensure that other obstacles besides divorce or death--for example a feud within the family--did not prevent grandparents from seeing their progeny.

But Senator William A. Marovitz, sponsor of the bill to repeal that law, said it usurped “the decisionmaking prerogative of a parent to say who the child is with and for how long.”

Mr. Marovitz said the bill had sparked costly court cases, including “abuses” by grandparents whose children “were not even denying visitation, but allowing a grandparent to see the child not quite as often as the grandparent wants.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 1990 edition of Education Week as News in Brief