I read the article titled “La. special ed law triggers federal warning” recently printed in The Advocate.

For once, the federal government did something right in warning the Louisiana Department of Education about possible violations in Act 833 enacted in 2014.

Act 833 needs to be repealed.

According to the newspaper article, “the chief issue is the possibility that Louisiana’s law will illegally lower the bar to allow students with disabilities to get a traditional high school diploma.”

I understand the intent behind the law, but there is a difference between special education and special needs education. My concern is the education of deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind students targeted by the provisions in Act 833. According to Act 833, any student who is not performing may be considered by an IEP team for an alternative program

Hearing loss is invisible. I fear many programs will use this law to shuffle aside deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind student.

A degree in education does not necessary prepare teachers to teach individuals who have a hearing loss. Students with hearing losses lag behind because the attention and assistance they need are not being provided. A teacher with a class of 30 students and one student who is hard of hearing, deaf or deaf-blind cannot address these needs efficiently and effectively.

I doubt Louisiana has an IEP team that includes a deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind professional with an intensive knowledge of hearing losses, communication needs and deaf culture to assist in determining the placement of deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind students in classrooms or alternative placements.

Act 833, by “lowering the bar” for the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind, is slamming the doors to “get a traditional high school diploma.”

Act 833 needs to be repealed.

Mary L. Smith

retiree

Kentwood