Putting Education Reform To The Test

What Hillsborough County Disabilities Advocates Want From The School Board And State Leaders

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Some of the signs at Thursday's protest by disabilities advocates.

About two dozen protestors gathered Thursday to ask Hillsborough County school officials to change school policies after three students with disabilities dies following school-related events this year.

The most important change they requested is that all aides working with students with disabilities are properly trained.

But the group also had a more detailed list of requests that ranged from simple things, such as changing who to call first in an emergency, to a more contentious request that Florida fully implement the Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act health care law.

Medicaid is a federally-funded but state-run health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Participating in the federal expansion, they said, would allow the state to better tailor programs and services for the disabled and allow more disabled to receive care at home rather than an institution.

Here’s what else the protestors were requesting:

  • Training for all aides working with the disabled, including training specifically for the child with which they are working.
  • Training for parents explaining their disabled child’s rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Many parents say they have difficulty working with school districts to develop their child’s education plan because it is difficult to understand the complex law.
  • More consequences for any school employee who knowingly puts a child in danger.
  • Mandatory training for bus drivers who transport children with disabilities.
  • Assistive technology for children in wheelchairs or who use walkers, and to help track those labeled “runners.”
  • Policies that put a preference on caring for children at home with their family rather than in nursing homes or other institutions — including funding.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »