In the fall of 2015, the state legislature passed legislation that would give public school districts and charter schools more leeway in how they serve students with disabilities.
The legislation allowed schools to choose how to administer classes to students with physical disabilities.
The legislation also provided greater autonomy for school districts, allowing them to decide which students would receive special needs services, such as the use of specialized learning aids.
The new legislation was hailed by many in the state as a landmark achievement.
It gave schools more flexibility to provide students with special needs with access to appropriate services.
But critics say the legislation, which came with a number of limitations, is an affront to the disabled community and has limited the rights of those who do not have a disability.
While some schools have used special needs accommodations to accommodate students with learning disabilities, the vast majority of school districts have not, according to the advocacy group The Disability Rights Center.
In the meantime, the legislation was an issue for parents and educators who had been concerned that special needs students would not be allowed to participate in school activities.
In 2015, parents in Polk County, Indiana, and other areas in the United States began receiving notices from their local school districts informing them of the law, according the Disability Rights Coalition, which advocates for students with developmental disabilities.
While many of those notices have since been deleted, a cached version of one of the emails is available to the public.
The group said it was also alarmed to learn that the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction had begun accepting requests from districts to use a wheelchair ramp as a means of transferring students between classrooms, according a report in the New York Times.
It’s unclear what steps the legislature took to ensure that districts were not allowing special needs to take over school activities, or how it might have prevented this from happening in the first place.
Some parents say they are concerned that a provision in the legislation that allows schools to decide for themselves what kind of disabilities students should be able to participate is a potential loophole that would allow special needs access to facilities that are not open to all students.
“If the bill is actually enforced, then schools will be able, for instance, to choose to give special needs special needs kids a special education program or a special needs-only program,” said Chris Eberhardt, a Polk-St. Joseph public school teacher who has a child with developmental disability.
“If they’re not allowed to do that, then the special needs community will just say, ‘This is a bad deal for our kids, and we’re not going to do it.'”
“If they were to go ahead and implement it, we’ll have to see how many students it will actually affect,” he added.
A spokesperson for the governor’s office declined to comment on whether the law has been amended in the interim.
State Senator Steve Kostelka, a Republican from Indiana, sponsored the legislation in response to concerns raised by parents who were worried about the possibility of schools refusing to accommodate special needs, and said he is optimistic the legislature will pass the legislation again.
“The intent of the bill was to give schools the flexibility to use any of the available resources to serve students who have learning disabilities,” Kostalka said.
“And I believe it’s time that we moved to the end of that line.”
But the legislation has been met with criticism from some advocates for special needs.
The disability rights advocacy group, The Disability Rts, filed a complaint with the state Department of Education and the Office of Legislative Counsel last year, alleging that the legislation could put disabled students at risk of “harmful” and “unconstitutional” policies and practices.
The advocacy group said in a statement that “the legislation will be a massive and harmful burden on special needs children and their families and will prevent many students from attending school.”
“This is the most egregious piece of legislation that has ever been put before the legislature, and the governor has failed to stop it,” said Tyshawn Edwards, an attorney with the disability rights group.
“I think the governor needs to understand that this legislation has already made the lives of people with disabilities harder.
We need a new law that will ensure that students with intellectual disabilities and those who have physical disabilities are able to attend school and live the lives they deserve.”
The state’s attorney general, Joe Deters, declined to respond to a request for comment on the legislation.
In a statement, Deters said that the governor “has long supported the special education system, and he will continue to support this vital part of the state government.”