For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) profiles a noteworthy bill that is going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.
Bill: House Bill (HB) 272, relating to the terminology used to refer to an individualized education program team.
Bill Author: Rep. Julie Johnson, House District 115 (Farmers Branch)
As laid out under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), an individualized education program (IEP) is a legal document that outlines the special education services a student receives. The document is created by a team of professionals that know the student well, usually consisting of the student, their parents, the student’s teachers, and other individuals who have knowledge regarding the child. In federal law and other states, this team of individuals is known as the IEP team. However, Texas refers to this group as the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee.
What does the bill do?
HB 272 would update the education code to remove all references to the “admission, review, and dismissal committee,” and replace them with “individualized education program team.”
The bill references federal statute to define the term “individualized education program team” or “IEP team” as a group of individuals composed of:
- the parents of a child with a disability;
- at least one general education teacher of the child, if the child is or may be participating in the general education environment;
- at least one special education teacher or special education provider of the child;
- a representative of the local educational agency who:
- is qualified to provide or supervise specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
- is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
- is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the local educational agency;
- an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be a member of the team described in the clauses above;
- at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
- whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.
The bill directs state entities to avoid using the phrases “admission, review, and dismissal committee” or “ARD committee” and replace them with “individualized education program team” or “IEP team” where appropriate. This is to include the enacting, revising, proposing, adopting, amending, or producing of new or existing statutes, resolutions, rules, or state agency materials. The bill stipulates that a statute, resolution, or rule is not invalid solely because it does not use the preferred phrases.
If passed, HB 272 would take effect on Sept. 1, 2023.
Statement from Rep. Julie Johnson, bill author:
Statement from Rep. Julie Johnson, bill author:
“HB 272 would change the term ‘Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee’ to ‘Individualized Education Program Team’, along with aligning Texas statute with the Texas Education Association rules and federal law and sponsor a more collaborative environment between school districts and parents. The term ‘ARD’ is odd and creates confusion, and Texas is the only state that uses this terminology.”
Where is the bill in the process?
On March 8, 2023, HB 272 received a public hearing before the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and was left pending. When a bill is left pending, this means that the committee did not vote on the bill and it could be considered again at a future committee meeting. You can watch the discussion on the bill here, beginning at the 1:07:40 mark.
Who supports the bill and why?
The following comments were given as testimony at the March 8 hearing on HB 272:
- TASP: Amanda Afifi, the chair of the government and professional relations committee for the Texas Association of School Psychologists (TASP), testified in support of the bill. She stated, “(HB 272) seeks to align state statute and TEA rules with federal law by changing the ARD term to IEP.” She continued, “the current terminology of ARD … does not accurately reflect the purpose of the meeting; however, the term IEP … indicates the team is gathered to consider an individualized program for that child.” Afifi noted that different schools use different terminology; this creates an abundance of confusion, particularly for those who are not native speakers.
- Advocate: Chris Masey, representing himself, provided remarks in favor of the bill. He explained, “the IEP is an important process for parents, and the clarity of that is important.” Referencing the body being discussed, he described it as, “a group of diverse individuals coming together for a common cause,” continuing, “that’s a team, that’s not an ARD.”
The following groups registered their support for identical legislation in 2021: the Autism Society of Texas, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Disability Rights Texas, Texas Association of Community Schools, Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, and Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
Who opposes the bill and why?
No testimony was provided in opposition to HB 272 at the March 8 hearing or against identical legislation in 2021.
The following comments were submitted at the March 8 hearing on HB 272:
- TCDD: Sabrina Gonzalez Saucedo, policy analyst for TCDD, provided written testimony on the bill. She wrote that the “disconnect between federal and state terminology causes unnecessary confusion for students, parents, and school staff in an already complex system.” She continued, “using the term IEP team not only brings Texas in consensus with federal law, but it is a term that more accurately reflects the collaborative nature of this team supporting the student.”
How much will the bill cost?
The Legislative Budget Board determined that HB 272 would not impact the state budget in a significant way.
Is there a Senate companion to the bill?
Senate Bill (SB) 1539, authored by Senator Tan Parker, is identical to HB 272. It was filed on March 3 and currently awaits referral to a committee.
Share this bill
TCDD created a Bill of the Week one-pager for HB 272 (PDF). This is a simplified explanation of the bill that you can share with your representative and personal network.
For the latest information and status of HB 272, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.