Bill allowing delayed school enrollment for students with autism passes PA Senate

25 June 2024- Companion legislation to a bill sponsored by Reps. Dane Watro (R-Luzerne/Schuylkill) and Mike Cabell (R-Luzerne) that would allow delayed school enrollment in Pennsylvania for young children with autism passed in the Senate today.

Senate Bill 1157, also known as Roman’s Law, sponsored by Sen. Dave Argall (R-29), will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Our proposal is grounded in the belief that such an enrollment adjustment could better cater to the unique and intensive educational needs of these students,” the House members said. “Children diagnosed with autism or other developmental delays and intellectual disabilities often require specialized attention and tailored learning approaches. A delayed start would allow for early intervention programs, providing essential support in developing social and emotional skills.”

“An extra year of specialized support can make a world of difference for these kids,” said Argall. “Parents deserve the chance to find the right path for their children. I’m proud to champion this legislation with Reps. Watro and Cabell.”

The legislation would allow the parents or guardians of children who have reached the compulsory school age of 6 to request a waiver from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to delay school enrollment for one year if the child has been diagnosed with autism or other developmental and intellectual disabilities. The child would also be eligible to receive early intervention services from the state during the waiver period.

Additionally, under the bill, the parent or guardian may enroll the child in kindergarten or first grade for the next school year at the end of the waiver period.

The bill is named after Roman DeAngelo, a Luzerne County boy with autism whose parents have advocated for the enrollment change.