Report Title:

Felix Class Children; Defined



Adds new section to Chapter 302A, HRS, Felix class children, and defines the terms applicable to these children.



S.B. NO.









relating to education.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the departments of education and health have failed to develop a working definition of Felix class children during the five years of the Felix-Cayetano consent decree, and that it is necessary and appropriate for the legislature to establish measurable thresholds for inclusion and exclusion into the Felix class.

The purpose of this Act is to establish a statutory framework for Felix class children, including the conditions covered and definitions of those conditions, as well as specific exclusions.

SECTION 2. Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"§302A-   Felix class children; eligibility. (a) The Felix class includes children age zero to twenty, residing in Hawaii, who require special education or mental health services as a result of one or more of the following conditions:

(1) Learning disabilities such as autism, attention deficit disorder, and dyslexia;

(2) Mental retardation;

(3) Emotional or behavioral disorders;

(4) Substance abuse problems;

(5) Developmental delays in language and communication skills, cognitive skills, social or emotional development, or adaptive behavior;

(6) Speech or language impairment; or

(7) Multiple disabilities, at least one of which falls into one of the previous categories.

(b) Additional thresholds for inclusion into the Felix class may include:

(1) Abrupt and significant deterioration of school performance, as measured by grades;

(2) Obvious decline in the mastery of educational objectives;

(3) Severe decrease in classification productiveness; or

(4) Sudden inability to master more advanced, complex skills, or to accomplish long-term projects.

(c) As is the case with Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act regulations, the existence of a disability does not automatically mean that a student is eligible as a member of the Felix class. To be eligible, students must have one of the above named disabilities that adversely affects educational performance and necessitates specially designed instruction, or mental health services, or both. Lack of proper instruction in reading and math skills does not qualify a child as disabled. Children who are disabled but are not part of the Felix class include those whose disabilities are limited to one or more of the following:

(1) Mobility impairment;

(2) Vision impairment;

(3) Hearing impairment;

(4) Epilepsy;

(5) Neurological disorders that require assistive technology but do not impair the intellectual learning process, such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy; or

(6) Time-limited emotional disorders, such as adjustment disorders.

(d) Diagnosis of an emotional or behavioral disorder is insufficient for inclusion into the Felix class. Emotional and behavioral disorders must cause a marked degree of impairment in academic performance for inclusion into the Felix class.

(e) Children with physical disabilities who also have conditions necessitating special education or mental health services shall be classified as Felix class only with regard to their special education or mental health needs. Assistive technology for physical needs shall not be financed by funds provided for Felix class children.

(f) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings unless the context indicates otherwise:

"Adaptive behavior" means the effectiveness with which a student meets the standards of personal independence and social responsibility expected of the student's age and cultural group. There should be a significant positive correlation between the student’s IQ and adaptive behavior.

"Attention deficit disorder" or "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" means a long-term and pervasive condition causing severe distractibility and impulsiveness in children, making it difficult for them to control behavior and complete assignments. Children with attention deficit disorder often fail to give close attention to details, make careless mistakes, have difficulty sustaining attention to and completing tasks, do not seem to listen when spoken to directly, fail to follow instructions carefully, act restless or nervous, talk excessively, blurt out answers before hearing the whole question, and have difficulty awaiting their turn. The hyperactivity component may or may not be present.

"Autism" means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. Specific characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

"Developmental delays" means significant delays diagnosed in language skills, cognitive abilities, gross or fine motor function, social or emotional development, and self-help or adaptive functioning. This term applies to children ages three through nine who exhibit disabilities that cannot be attributed to other disability categories.

"Dyslexia" means an information processing disorder that hinders a child's ability to understand and perform tasks related to reading, writing, spelling, math, and sometimes music. Many dyslexics have trouble matching letters to their corresponding sounds. Some common characteristics include the reversal of letters and words, and defects in the visual and auditory perception and memory considered necessary for reading.

"Emotional or behavioral disorder" refers to a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

(1) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;

(2) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;

(3) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;

(4) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or

(5) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

This group of disorders includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children whose behavior is associated with visual or auditory disabilities, motor disabilities, mental retardation, specific learning disability; nor to children raised in a disadvantaged environmental or economic situation; nor to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have a clinical emotional disturbance.

"Learning disability" includes any disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may result in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. This term includes conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

"Mental retardation" means significantly subaverage intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

"Multiple disabilities" refers to physical or sensory impairments occurring in combination with each other or concomitantly with other disabling conditions. Children in this category exhibit two or more severe disabilities that are likely to be lifelong, significantly interfere with independent functioning, and may necessitate environmental modifications to enable the individual to participate in school and society. Examples include orthopedically impaired or mentally retarded and hearing impaired or mentally retarded. A specific learning disability and a speech or language impairment do not constitute a multiple disability.

"Speech or language impairment" means reduced ability, whether developmental or acquired, to comprehend or express ideas through spoken, written, or gestured language. This term includes stuttering, impaired articulation, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

"Substance abuse problem" means a diagnosed addiction to or chronic abuse of alcohol, narcotics, or other controlled drug, which requires medical treatment and psychological counseling."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.