Governor Larry Hogan has added Maryland to the list of states taking legislative interest in meeting the needs of students with dyslexia.
On May 12, 2015, the Governor approved House Bill 278 which established the Task Force to Study the Implementation of a Dyslexia Education Program. In August, Governor Hogan selected the members of the Task Force.
The Task Force will include State Senator Joan Carter Conway; Representative Ann Kaiser; Marcella Franczkowski, the designee of the State Superintendent of Schools; Theresa Milio-Birge, representative from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education; Scott Smith, Superintendent of St. Mary’s public schools, who represents the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland; Robin Szymanski, representative of Maryland State Education Association; Dr. Valerie Wilder, Kent County Schools, representative of Maryland School Psychologists’ Association.
Governor Hogan designated Dr. Joan A. Mele-McCarthy, CCC-SLP, to Chair of the Task Force. Dr. Mele-McCarthy is the Executive Director of The Summit School in Edgewater. Members also appointed by the Governor include: Mr. Ben Shifrin, Head of Jemicy School; Ms. Marty Sweeney, Head of Odyssey School; Amy Siracusano, Calvert County Public School Teacher; Lavaunda Roundtree, Educational Support Services, LLC and Anne Arundel County Public School Teacher; Lisa Blottenberger and Laura Schultz, both parents and representatives of a grass roots organization, Decoding Dyslexia – Maryland.
According to the House Bill 278, the Task Force shall:
(1) determine current practices for identifying and treating dyslexia in students in Maryland public schools;
(2) determine current practices for identifying and treating dyslexia in other states;
(3) determine the appropriate structure for establishing a dyslexia education program and make recommendations on:
(i) the feasibility of funding a dyslexia education program through the State Department of Education or alternative funding mechanisms and sources or both;
(ii) the methodologies that should be used to test students and identify dyslexia and pre–dyslexia tendencies in students;
(iii) the appropriate age to begin testing for dyslexia and pre–dyslexia tendencies; and
(iv) the best practices for treating and educating students identified as having dyslexia or pre–dyslexia tendencies; and
(4) develop a pilot program to initiate the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force in an appropriately limited geographical area.
The Task Force shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor on or before December 30, 2015.
More than twenty states currently have statewide dyslexia laws and at least ten other states have dyslexia laws making their way through the legislature. The laws focus primarily on definitions and terminology, early screening, identification, provision of interventions and accommodations, and eligibility for services.
The Task Force to Study the Implementation of a Dyslexia Education Program will convene to begin their work on September 17, 2015. For more information about the Task Force, please contact the Chair, Dr. Joan A. Mele-McCarthy at 410-798-0005 or [email protected].