A bill that would provide special education students with a post-pandemic boost to finish school is nearing completion at the state Capitol on the final day of the legislative session. 

The proposal is meant to address the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for students with disabilities who are at risk of aging out of public education by the time they turn 21. 

The measure would enable special education students to return to school until completing the Individual Education Plan or turning age 23, whichever is sooner. State law entitles students to attend public school in New York until they turn 21. Students with disabilities sometimes need additional years in school, and remote learning for these students provided additional challenges as well. 

The bill would allow school districts to continue providing educational services to special needs students. 

“Every student deserves access to a quality education that helps them thrive and for many special education students, that means having supportive school districts that meet the specific needs of their intellectual or developmental disabilities,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, the Democratic sponsor of the bill. “As the father of a child with autism, I know the challenges that the pandemic has posed for individuals with disabilities. Many essential programs and services were halted and many students with disabilities faced difficulties adapting to online learning."

The Assembly approved the measure this week; the state Senate could take up the bill later on Thursday.