Rep. McNamara bill to include speech pathology in special education, ends project capping at age 9

State House

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The House Committee on Education heard a testimony this Wednesday on legislation initiated by Representative Joseph M. McNamara that would include speech pathology as a part of special education.

The bill would provide special education services for students with disabilities that include speech-language pathology services, that do not cease solely because the child is 9 years or older.

“Rhode Island is the only state in the union that ends speech pathology for students who are 9 years old,” said Representative McNamara. “It was put in place by the Board of Regents many years ago, and it’s a horrible disparity for children who need those services. The plans and therapies these students receive should be based on the assessments and evaluations of licensed speech pathologists, not an arbitrary age rule.”

The bill is supported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as the American Civil Liberties Union. Both groups submitted testimonies in favor of the bill.

“This restriction is unique to Rhode Island,” said Judy Rich, president of ASHA. “Decisions about services for students with communication disorders should not be limited by a student’s age, but rather driven by a student’s unique needs as identified in the Individualized Education Program.”

The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives David A. Bennett, and Jacquelyn M. Baginski.

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