BILL #: CS/HB 223 Public School Student Progression for Students With Disabilities
SPONSOR(S): Education Quality Subcommittee, Bartleman and others
1) Education Quality Subcommittee 17 Y, 0 N, As CS Dixon Sanchez
2) PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee 13 Y, 0 N Bailey Potvin
3) Education & Employment Committee
All students who have a disability and are between the ages of three and 21, have the right to a free,
appropriate public education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs how state and
public agencies provide early intervention, education, and related services to eligible children with disabilities.
The bill allows for the parent of a student, who has a disability and an individual education plan (IEP), who is
enrolled in a public school prekindergarten program at the age of four and is fully funded through the Florida
Education Finance Program (FEFP), to decide, in consultation with the individual education plan team, if their
student should be retained.
The bill requires that a four-year old student with an IEP, who has been retained in a public school
prekindergarten program that was fully funded through the FEFP and has demonstrated a substantial
deficiency in early literacy skills, receive instruction in early literacy skills.
The bill also revises the “good cause exemptions” from mandatory retention, by allowing a student, in grade 3,
with a learning disability and who is severely below grade-level, be promoted to grade 4, if the student was
retained in a prekindergarten program.
The bill does not have a fiscal impact. See Fiscal Analysis.
This bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2023.
This docum ent does not reflect the intent or official position of the bill sponsor or House of Representatives .
DATE: 3/9/2023
Present Situation
Students with Disabilities
All students who are between the ages of three and 21, and have a disability1 have the right to a free,
appropriate public education (FAPE).2 It is the responsibility of each state and school district to develop
procedures to provide all students with disabilities access to a FAPE in the least restrictive
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)4 governs how state and public agencies
provide early intervention, education, and related services to eligible children with disabilities. 5 The
IDEA was enacted in 1975 and was most recently reauthorized in 2004. 6 The purpose of the IDEA is to:
 Ensure that all children with disabilities are provided with a FAPE that emphasizes special
education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for
further education, employment, and independent living;
 Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected;
 Assist states, localities, educational service agencies, 7 and federal agencies to provide for
the education of all children with disabilities; and
 Assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities. 8
States receiving IDEA funds must comply with detailed procedural requirements, including identifying,
evaluating, and making placements for students with disabilities and for developing an individualized
education program (IEP)9 for each student.10 In developing an IEP, the IEP team 11 is required to
consider a child’s strengths, concerns of the parents for enhancing education, results of the initial
evaluation or most recent evaluation of the child, and the academic, developmental, and functional
1 Disabilities that qualify a student as an exceptional student include an intellectual disability; an autism spectrum disorder ; a speech
impairment; a language impairment; an orthopedic impairment; another health impairment; traumatic brain injury; a visua l
impairment; an emotional or behavioral disability; a specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or
developmental aphasia; deafness, hard of hearing, or dual sensory impairment; or developmental delays from birth t hrough five years
old or if the student is hospitalized or homebound. Section 1003.01(3)(a), F.S.
2 20 U.S.C. s. 1412(a)(1); s. 1003.5716, F.S.
3 Florida Department of Education, Developing Quality Individual Education Plans, at 9 (2015), available at
4 20 U.S.C. s. 1400 et seq.; 34 C.F.R. s. 300.17.
5 See 20 U.S.C. s. 1412(a)(1); See also U.S. Department of Education, National Assessment of IDEA Overview, at 1-2 (July 2011),
available at
6 U.S. Department of Education, OSEP Fast Facts: IDEA 45 th Anniversary, November 2020,
idea-45th-anniversary/ (last visited Jan. 30, 2023).
7 “Educational service agency” means a regional public multiservice agency authorized by state law to develop, manage, and provide
services or programs to local education agencies or school boards and recognized as an administrative agency for purposes of
providing special education and related services within elementary and secondary schools in the state. 34 C.F.R. s. 300.12.
8 20 U.S.C. s. 1400(d), U.S. Department of Education, National Assessment of IDEA Overview, at 2, available at
9 In Florida statute, IEP refers to an “individual education plan.” Section 1003.5716, F.S.
10 20 U.S.C. s. 1415.
11 The IEP team is comprised of the student’s parent(s), at least one regular education teacher of the student (if the student is or may be
participating in the regular education environment), at least one special education teacher of the student, a representative of the local
education agency, an individual who can interpret instructional implications of evaluation results (may be the teacher or agency
representative), other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise of the student at the discretion of the parent or agency, and
the student when appropriate. 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(1)(B).
DATE: 3/9/2023
needs of the child, as well as special factors.12 Federal law requires that the student’s first IEP, which
must be in effect when the student turns 16, must include measurable postsecondary goals related to
training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. 13 The IEP must also
specify the transition services 14 needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. 15 Federal law
requires the IEP team to review the student’s IEP at least annually to determine whether the student’s
goals are being achieved and to revise the IEP as necessary. 16
Florida Law Governing Exceptional Student Education
As the state educational agency, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) exercises general
supervision over all educational programs for children with disabilities in the state, including all
programs administered by other state or local agencies. 17 The DOE’s Bureau of Exceptional Education
and Student Services (bureau) is responsible for ensuring that the requirements of federal law and the
educational requirements of the state are implemented.18 The bureau is required to examine and
evaluate exceptional student education (ESE) procedures, records, and programs; provide information
and assistance to school districts; and assist the districts in operating effectively and efficiently. 19
Individual Education Plan in Florida
For each eligible student or child with a disability served by a school district, or other state agency that
provides special education and related services either directly, by contract, or through other
arrangements, an IEP or individual family support plan must be developed, reviewed, and revised, as
needed.20 The IEP is the primary vehicle for communicating the school district’s commitment to
addressing the unique educational needs of a Florida student with a disability. 21
Students with disabilities must be reevaluated at least once every three years to determine their
continuing eligibility for special education and related services.22 However, a student’s parent or teacher
may request an IEP team meeting or a reevaluation at any time. 23
Voluntary Prekindergarten Program
In 2004, the Legislature established the Voluntary Prekindergarten program (VPK), a voluntary, free
prekindergarten program offered to eligible four-year-old children in the year before admission to
kindergarten. 24 A child must be a Florida resident and attain four years of age on or before September
12 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(3)(A) and (B).
13 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII).
14 Under IDEA, transition services are defined as a coordinated set of activities that (1) is designed to be within a results -oriented
process focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of a child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement
from school to post-school activities; (2) is based on the individual child’s needs, strengths, preferences, and interests; and (3) includes
instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post -school adult living objectives,
and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. 20 U.S.C. s. 1401(34). Transit ion services
are also defined in Rule 6A-6.03411(1)(nn), F.A.C.
15 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII).
16 20 U.S.C. s. 1414(d)(4)(a).
17 20 U.S.C. s. 1412(a)(11); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.149.
18 34 C.F.R. s. 300.149(a)(1) and (2).
19 Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services, Exceptional Student Education
Compliance Protocols 2020-2021, at 1, available at
20 Rule 6A-6.03028(3), F.A.C.
21 Florida Department of Education, Developing Quality Individual Education Plans, at 9 (2015), available at
22 Rule 6A-6.0331(7), F.A.C.
23 See Rule 6A-6.03028, F.A.C.
24 Section 1, ch. 2004-484, L.O.F.; part V, ch. 1002, F.S.; see also Art. IX, s. 1(b)-(c), Fla. Const. The VPK program originated from a
ballot initiative proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution in the November 2002 general election. The amendment req uired
the Legislature to establish a free prekindergarten education program for every four-year old child residing in Florida by the 2005
academic year.
DATE: 3/9/2023
1 of the program year to be eligible for the VPK program.25 The child is eligible for the VPK program
during that program year or the subsequent program year and remains eligible until enrollment in
kindergarten or attaining six years of age by February 1 of any school year. 26 Parents may choose
either a school-year program or summer program offered by either a public school or private
prekindergarten provider.27
Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Programs
School Year-Programs
Program Characteristics Summer Program 28
Public School 29 Private Prekindergarten30
Provider Type
Private prekindergarten Public school or private
Public school
provider prekindergarten provider
Minimum Program
540 instructional hours 540 instructional hours 300 instructional hours
An additional option for parents of VPK-eligible children with a current IEP is the VPK specialized
instructional services (SIS) program.31 VPK SIS is available outside the traditional VPK classroom
setting, and allows a parent to choose specialized services instead of a traditional VPK school year or
summer program. The parent can choose services consistent with their child’s IEP from an approved
VPK SIS provider.32 Services may include, but are not limited to, applied behavior analysis, speech-
language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and listening and spoken language
specialists.33 Parents and providers work together to complete required forms and the local early
learning coalition pays VPK SIS providers directly for services delivered to children in the program
based on the schedule of services form.34
Funding for each student is the same as for traditional VPK, but based on the rates these specialists
charge for their services. Therefore, students in VPK SIS may receive fewer hours of service than
students in traditional VPK.35
Funding for Prekindergarten Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities and an IEP may participate in a prekindergarten program offered by a public
school district and these students are fully funded in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
Florida Education Finance Program
In 1973, the Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) “to guarantee
to each student in the Florida public educational system the availability of programs and services
25 Section 1002.53(2), F.S. Funds appropriated for the VPK program may not be used to enroll eligible students participating in the
Gardiner Scholarship Program. See s. 1002.385(4)(a), F.S.
26 Section 1002.53(2), F.S. Children who attain five years of age on or before September 1 of the academic year are eligible for
admission to public kindergarten. Section 1003.21(1)(a)2., F.S.
27 Section 1002.53(3), F.S.
28 Section 1002.61, F.S.
29 Section 1002.63, F.S.
30 Section 1002.55, F.S.
31 Section 1002.53(3)(d), F.S.
32 Section 1002.66, F.S.; see also rule 6A-6.03033, F.A.C; Florida’s Office of Early Learning, Specialized Instructional Service
Providers, m/vpk/vpk-providers/specialized-instructional-services-providers (last visited Jan. 31,
33 Section 1002.66(2), F.S.
34 Section 1002.66, F.S.; see also rule 6M-8.500, F.A.C.
35 Id.
DATE: 3/9/2023
appropriate to his or her educational needs which are substantially equal to those available to any
similar student notwithstanding geographic differences and varying local economic factors.” 36 The
FEFP allocates funds to each school district based on student enrollment.37 Students with disabilities
and an IEP, attending a public school district prekindergarten exceptional student education (ESE)
program, are funded with state and local funds through the FEFP.38
The FEFP uses a unit of measure for each student called a full-time equivalent (FTE) student. One FTE
equals one school year of instruction provided to a student. 39 FEFP funds are calculated by multiplying
the number of unweighted FTE students in each of the funded education programs by cost factors to
obtain weighted FTE students. The program cost factors reflect the relative cost of servicing students in
each of the education program.40 The ESE program cost factors for Fiscal Year 2022-23 are as
Programs for Exceptional Student Education Cost Factors
111 – Pre-K- grade 3 with ESE Services 1.126
112 – Grades 4 - 8 with ESE Services 1.000
113 – Grades 9 - 12 with ESE Services 0.999
254 – Support Level 4 3.674
255 – Support Level 5 5.401
An IEP is established for each ESE student which documents the required level of educational needs
or services and additional funding that is required to serve the student. For ESE students with a
disability, there are five defined support levels with Level 1 being the lowest level of need and Level 5
being the highest.
Weighted FTE students are then multiplied by a base student allocation, as determined by the
Legislature42 ($4,587.40 for FY 2022-23),43 and by a district cost differential44 to determine the Base
Funding from state and local funds.45
Additionally, ESE services for students whose level of service is less than Support Levels 4 and 5 are
funded through the ESE Guaranteed Allocation.46 This allocation provides for the additional services