S.D. House agrees: State department must collect data on hard-of-hearing students

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Department of Education shall gather information on every South Dakota student, up to age 21, with a documented hearing loss of 35 decibels or more, the state House of Representatives has decided.

House members voted 60-4 Tuesday to agree with the tighter Senate version of HB 1228. The requirement would take effect July 1, 2021. The Senate approved it 33-0.

Representative Erin Healy, a Sioux Falls Democrat, was prime sponsor of the original legislation. The state Department of Education opposed it in the House hearing but supported it with the Senate committee’s amendments.

The bill now goes to Governor Kristi Noem for a decision whether it becomes law.

Healy asked House members Tuesday to accept the Senate change. She said the data would still come through the standard hearing-screening process that school districts already use when children start kindergarten.

The legislation resulted from the department designating other disabilities as the primary ones for hundreds of children who also were deaf or hard of hearing.

Sioux Falls is the home community for the state School for the Deaf that provides services to students throughout South Dakota. The state Board of Regents governs the School for the Deaf.

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