HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2421

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020

H.D. 2

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO THE HAWAI'I SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the National Association of State Directors of Special Education recommends that decisions affecting deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students be made by individuals knowledgeable about these students' educational needs. In Hawaii, there has been a public school on Oahu operated by the department of education for the education of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students since 1914, known as the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind (school).

The legislature further finds that over the first century of the school's existence, there has been a lack of administrators within the department of education who are experienced and knowledgeable in deaf education and fluent in American Sign Language. This lack of expertise by the department of education's administration has raised concerns about whether the school is being adequately managed. For example, principals and vice-principals have been appointed to the school despite having no expertise in deaf education, American Sign Language-English bilingual education, and American Sign Language. There has also been an atmosphere of audism, which is a form of discrimination aimed at persons who are deaf and the actions that deaf persons engage in to communicate. At the school, concerns about audism have been raised regarding people with no expertise in the education of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students making educational decisions for these students. It has also often led to the exclusion of deaf stakeholders in the decision-making process.

The legislature concludes that for the school to be successful, it needs independent oversight, similar to the structure of other schools focused on deaf students, such as the Colorado school for the deaf and the blind, California school for the deaf (Riverside and Fremont), and Maryland school for the deaf. Colorado established a board of trustees for its school within the Colorado department of education, which is one of the most successful schools in the nation for the education of deaf individuals.

The legislature additionally finds that an independent, expertise-driven board of trustees for the school will be able to expedite department of education appropriations needed by the school and ensure that timely decisions are made. Currently, appropriations are not made in a timely manner to the school, which often causes financial hardship. The school also has numerous facilities issues, such as needed repairs to the showers in the male dormitory, which forces male students to walk across campus to take a shower. Furthermore, the hiring of teachers takes months and has resulted in prospective teachers finding employment elsewhere.

An independent, expertise-driven board of trustees will also be able to foster an accurate understanding of student achievement. Currently, the school's students are required to take state tests, which are not adapted for deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students, resulting in a false image of the school as underachieving. In 2019, for the first time in over one hundred years, the school received national accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The report from the accrediting commission stated that the school "is doing a vital and life-changing job that supports high achievement for deaf students. This high achievement may not be evident in the standardized assessment scores, but it is very evident while observing the excellent education being delivered in the classroom, on the field, and in student interaction on campus."

The legislature also finds that an independent, expertise-driven board of trustees will enable the school to engage in early intervention services. The school is currently unable to provide educational services to children from birth to three years of age or to their parents. These formative years of language acquisition are critical to the future academic and linguistic success of the school's students. The need to provide early intervention has been identified by the State but these services are under the purview of the department of health. The school, working collaboratively with the department of health, can be another option for parents and children.

Although the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind has served the children of Hawaii for over 100 years, the purpose of this Act is to ensure that the needs of the deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students of Hawaii are met by statutorily establishing an independent governance structure for the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind.

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

"Part    . HAWAII SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND

302A-A Hawaii school for the deaf and blind; governance. There is established a school for the education of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind students, to be known as the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind. The Hawaii school for the deaf and blind shall be governed by the board of trustees established pursuant to section 302A-B. No student shall be required to enroll at or attend the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind.

302A-B Board of trustees of the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind. (a) There is established a board of trustees of the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind, to comprise nine members to be appointed by the governor for staggered terms pursuant to section 26-34, except as otherwise provided in this section. The members of the board shall be residents of Hawaii and shall include the following:

(1) At least two members shall be deaf individuals fluent in American Sign Language and knowledgeable about deaf education;

(2) At least one member shall be a deaf-blind individual or parent of a deaf-blind individual;

(3) At least one member shall be an alumnus or alumna of the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind;

(4) At least one member shall be a parent of a child who is deaf; and

(5) At least one member shall be a deaf individual who is resident of a neighbor island.

The superintendent shall serve as an ex-officio member.

(b) The members of the board of trustees shall elect the chairperson of the board of trustees. The terms of office shall be three years; provided that of the members initially appointed, three members shall serve one-year terms, two members shall serve two-year terms, and three members shall serve three-year terms. Board of trustee members shall serve not more than three consecutive three-year terms.

(c) The members of the board of trustees shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to reimbursement for necessary expenses while attending meetings and while in the discharge of duties and responsibilities.

(d) The board of trustees shall be responsible for the management and policy decisions for the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind; provided that the policy decisions of the board of trustees shall be consistent with the policies of the board of education. The board of trustees shall report to the superintendent. The complex area superintendent for the complex area that includes the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind shall supervise the delivery of administrative and instructional support services to the school pursuant to the direction of the board of trustees."

SECTION 3. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.



 

Report Title:

DOE; Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind; Board of Trustees; Governance; Deaf and Blind Task Force

 

Description:

Creates a board of trustees for the Hawaii school for the deaf and blind to establish an independent governance structure for the school. Takes effect 7/1/2050. (HD2)

 

 

 

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