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August 7, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Law to Improve Education in Colorado Takes Effect

DENVER, CO – A new law to reduce language barriers in schools goes into effect today. 

Starting August 7, HB23-1263, sponsored by Reps. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, and Mary Young, D-Greeley, and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, and Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, will reduce language barriers in special education learning plans. 

Under Colorado law, every public school student that qualifies for and receives special education services must have an individualized education program (IEP). The IEP is catered to each individual student and aims to improve their educational results and ability to learn in the classroom. HB23-1263 requires the IEP, the draft IEP, and any other related documents to be translated to the primary language spoken at the students’ home as necessary.

“Parents and guardians are invested in their child’s success at school, but language barriers can prevent them from understanding the details and requirements of their individual child’s education plan,” said Garcia. “This law works with local school districts to ensure that translated drafts of individualized education programs are provided so parents and guardians can be involved in their child’s special education eligibility. Together, we’re improving equity in our schools and making sure every learner is set up for success.” 

“Every parent or legal guardian should have equal opportunity to participate in their child’s learning plan, regardless of language barriers,” said Zenzinger. "This new law is essential, enabling families to actively collaborate in the creation of their child's learning plan, even if they don’t share a language with their child’s educators. I’m proud to have worked on this bill that will improve learning outcomes and better ensure quality special education."

“In order for a child to be eligible for special education services their parents must provide critical input, but sometimes a language barrier can limit parental involvement,” said Young. “This law is another step toward eliminating language barriers and boosting equity in our schools by ensuring that parents whose primary language is not English have the opportunity to participate in decisions related to their children’s special education eligibility.”

“Education is opportunity, and the law going into effect today will set Coloradans up for success,” said Gonzales. “HB 1263 will allow families of all backgrounds and languages to have an accessible opportunity to craft a special education learning plan. This is vital in our work to create an education system that works for all students and their families – regardless of language barrier.”

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